Gladiators triumph as PSL rejuvenates cricket in Pakistan | Pakistan Today

Gladiators triumph as PSL rejuvenates cricket in Pakistan

–Hasnain, Shehzad secure maiden PSL title for Quetta Gladiators

–Fawad Khan, Junoon dazzle at closing ceremony; Aima Baig, Shuja Haider pay tribute to Nazia Hasan

–President Arif Alvi, Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah, Governor Imran Ismail, others among over 28,000 spectators fill National Stadium

–COAS congrats Sindh govt, PCB, law enforcers, PSL participants on league’s success

KARACHI: Pakistan on Sunday hosted the third successive final of Pakistan Super League (PSL), rejuvenating the hopes for the return of international cricket to the country.

The international cricket teams had refused to visit Pakistan after an attack on Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009, however, the country’s security situation has significantly improved as a result of the Pakistan Army’s security operation, paving way for the return of mega T-20 event to the country.

Pakistan also builds its case for the return of international cricket on the basis of PSL matches in the country, a litmus test for the cricket-crazy nation.

Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi went head-to-head at the National Stadium Karachi which was not only filled with cricket fans from across the country, and the globe, but was also witnessed by top government officials and politicians, among others, on top of the millions who watched the final live on TV.

Over 28,000 spectators packed the stadium before Gladiators triumphed over Zalmi to clinch the PSL 4 title — their first since the league started in 2015.

THE MATCH:

Ahmad Shehzad anchored the Gladiators’ innings with 58 (51) alongside Rilee Rossouw 39 (32). Wahab Riaz was the only Zalmi player to pick a wicket by dismissing Ahsan Ali. Shane Watson departed early after Umar Amin ran him out.

Put into bat by Gladiators captain Sarfraz Ahmed, Zalmi lost their first wicket of Imamul Haq courtesy Mohammad Hasnain. Kamran Akmal soon followed when he was dismissed off Mohammad Nawaz’s delivery at the end of the 4th over. He put up 21 runs off 15 balls.

Sohaib Maqsood was the third man down, caught at long off by Rossouw owing to a witty slower delivery by Bravo. He scored an even 20 runs off 20 balls.

Umer Amin was next, caught out by Sohail Tanvir off Mohammad Hasnain’s delivery at deep mid wicket. He put up 38 runs off 33 balls.

Nabi Gul was caught out at 14.4 overs attempting to score a big one by Ahmed Shehzad at deep mid wicket. Fawad Ahmed claimed this one. Gul made 9 runs off 12 balls.

It was then up to Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy to rescue the side. Unfortunately, Pollard did not stick around for much longer as he was edged out to the keeper by Mohammad Hasnain, who with this wicket had claimed his third. He scored a disappointing 7 runs off 12 balls.

Sammy and Wahab Riaz were in a desperate attempt to add runs in the last three overs.

Sammy hit a four to mercifully send the scoreboard ticking at 18.3 overs and again sent the ball smashing for another four at the end of the over, managing to score 13 runs off the 19 over.

The last over saw the fall of Riaz at the second last ball when he was run out by Mohammad Nawaz. He put up 12 runs off 18 balls.

Sammy was the last man to go, fighting till the very end. He hit a full toss down to long on and was caught out by Mohammad Nawaz off Bravo’s delivery.

CLOSING CEREMONY:

A star-studded and electrifying closing ceremony to mark the finale of the PSL season four was held on Sunday at National Stadium Karachi.

Prior to the start of the event, a moment of silence was observed to pay respects to the victims of the Christchurch shooting in New Zealand.

This is the second consecutive time Karachi is hosting the final after the phenomenal success of last year’s final. The final match of PSL 2018 between Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi was also played at the same venue.

The stands are chock-full of cricket-crazy fans; tickets for the final were sold out weeks in advance.

Arrangements have been made in cities and towns across the country to view the spectacle on big screens at various clubs, cricket grounds and shopping malls.

The closing ceremony, hosted by Fakhre Alam, kicked off with charged performances by Abrarul Haq who belted out a live rendition of “Nach majajan” to perfection. Aima Baig sang the classic favourites “Dosti” and “Disco deewane” by Nazia Hasan.

The PSL official song was then performed by Fawad Khan, followed by a high octane performance by Junoon who sang “Zamaane ke andaaz”“Khudi ko kar buland” and “Sayyonee”.

A national favourite “Dil dil Pakistan” was also performed by the Sufi rock band.

Part of the festivities included a kick off to ticket sales for World Soccer Stars 2019 by football legend Carles Puyol.

The Barca star said, “Thank you Pakistan for this amazing welcome. The people are very friendly. I think before people only liked cricket and I saw you like a lot football [as well] and I am very happy [to see] that.”

‘HISTORIC DAY’:

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa congratulated the Sindh government, PCB, all teams, organisers, and the law enforcement agencies on successfully holding the mega event.

Pakistan Army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor said that in future PSL matches would be hosted in Miranshah, headquarters of North Waziristan.

“COAS congrats all on successful organisation of PSL especially PCB, all teams, organisers, administration, Pak Rangers Sindh, Sindh Police, LEAs & people of Karachi. All praises to Almighty Allah. May Allah continues His blessings upon Pakistan. Amen,” the army chief said.

Earlier, after the minute of silence was observed, PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani took to the stage and said it was a “historic day” for Karachi.

He stated, “Today the stands are filled with more than 28,000 people. Ever since PSL has come to Karachi, more than 200,000 people have come to the [National] Stadium. On digital platforms, hundreds of thousands of people have watched these matches.”

“We must always remember, cricket is that one sport that brings happiness and lights up people’s lives. We must never forget this lesson that cricket teaches us [of happiness and togetherness].”

“I am thankful to the government of Sindh, and especially Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Karachi core commander, inspector general of police, commissioner and deputy commissioner, ministers and organising committee chairman and interior secretary.”

“When we decided to bring PSL matches to Karachi the way all these people have extended their services to us is unparalleled.”

“I would also like to thank the government of Pakistan and Prime Minister Imran Khan in providing us with all the assistance in ensuring the success the PSL has achieved.”

“Quetta Gladiators will meet Peshawar Zalmi in the fight for the title and both will undoubtedly try their best to take the trophy home,” he said, before going on to say: “The team to play better will take the trophy home but for me, the biggest prize deserves to be given to the people of Karachi, for the love you have shown and the way you have supported PSL. I thank you all very much.”

“Finally, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to say to our overseas visitors, players, officials, and technical support teams: you have seen for yourself the passion and love for cricket in Pakistan. Next year we look forward to welcoming you back for PSL matches in Pakistan.”

‘VICTORY FOR KARACHIITES’:

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah also addressed the audience. He said, “First of all, i would like to pay my respects to the 50 people who fell victim to the terror attack in New Zealand. I pray for them and also for the injured.”

“Karachi walon! I can’t hear you! We have done it!” he declared triumphantly.

“And this year all the matches in Pakistan have been held in Karachi. This is a victory for Karachiites.”

“And like Mani sahab said, next year, we will hold the entire league in Pakistan. Karachi, Multan, Peshawar, Quetta, Islamabad will all host matches.”

“I am thankful to the people of Sindh and Karachi who bore difficulties to make this possible.”

“The government of Sindh will always strive to bring International cricket to Pakistan and we will start from the National Stadium.”

“I am also grateful to the international players who have come to Karachi. I hope they enjoy their stay here. I hope we have a great match today.”

“Both are great teams. Whoever wins, the victory will be of cricket, of the people of Karachi and moreover, of Pakistan,” he added.



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