Karachi was the centre of attention in the cricketing world on Sunday as the city played host to the Pakistan Super League (PSL) finals.
Having not hosted an international cricket match since Pakistan’s ill-fated Test against Sri Lanka in 2009, Karachi was lit up to welcome the return of world-class cricket.
Even hours before the start of play, fans could be seen queuing outside the stadium as droves of thousands turned up to see their favourite stars in action.
A celebratory atmosphere enveloped the stadium as Karachi fans quenched their thirst for international cricket.
The PSL finals was trending worldwide on Twitter as fans shared their reactions to see cricket return to the city. Former Pakistan all-rounder and fan favourite Shahid Afridi was one of the first to chime in with his thanks for everyone involved in making the finals a success.
Heartiest congratulations2 @IsbUnited for lifting the🏆Remarkable efforts by @najamsethi , Pak army,Government police&Rangers 4 making this possible&providing such an extreme entertainment for the people of Pakistan which they deserved. Highly appreciated #PakistanZindabad 🇵🇰
— Shahid Afridi (@SAfridiOfficial) March 25, 2018
Legendary Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar congratulated Islamabad for winning their second title, terming the finals as a win for Pakistan cricket.
Congratulations @IsbUnited .You guys played like true champs.Better luck next time @PeshawarZalmi.
This was a win for all the #Pakistan,thanks to all the international cricketers for coming to Pakistan and @TheRealPCB for bringing cricket home.#Psl #shoaibakhtar #PCB
— Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) March 25, 2018
His sentiments were echoed by many on social media with Shoaib Malik, Sohail Tanveer, Junaid Khan and Tymal Mills trumpeting the same thought.
— Shoaib Malik (@realshoaibmalik) March 25, 2018
— Sohail Tanveer (@sohailmalik614) March 25, 2018
Congratulations to @IsbUnited – best team throughout the tournament and deserved winners but more importantly congrats to Pakistan and the @thePSLt20 – real winners from all of this. Great Tournament! 👏🏾
— Tymal Mills (@tmills15) March 25, 2018
Islamabad United’s hero Luke Ronchi also congratulated his team-mates for their efforts as he praised the tournament.
— Luke Ronchi (@ronchi04) March 26, 2018
Even British boxer Amir Khan did not miss out on congratulating the victors on the night.
— Amir Khan (@amirkingkhan) March 25, 2018
Elsewhere, Pakistan cricket fans shared their delight in seeing cricket return to Karachi. The theme throughout social media was loud and clear – that Pakistan had been the real winner of the night.
— Zainab (@Zainab_ZZJ) March 25, 2018
The true happiness is not seeing Islamabad win, it’s seeing the teams united, the cities united! The whole country is the winner. PAKISTAN 🇵🇰 #PSL2018
— $am 🐻 (@UsamaAdil) March 25, 2018
— Rida Hussain (@AraySunno) March 25, 2018
After four weeks and 34 matches, it was Islamabad United who were crowned champions of the Pakistan Super League for the second time following their three-wicket victory over 2017 winners Peshawar Zalmi on Sunday night.
Like the previous two editions, there have been some exceptional displays from elite and upcoming cricketers and 2018 was no different.
Whether it was Kamran Akmal’s big-hitting or Imran Tahir’s hat-trick, the third edition was another massive hit with the players playing their part in putting on a spectacle.
With the competition done and dusted for another 12 months, we look at the players who have made our Team of the tournament in 2018…
CAPTAIN: SHAHID AFRIDI, KARACHI KINGS
Runs: 47, 100s: 0, 50s: 0
Produced one of the best moments in the tournament with that stunning catch against Quetta Gladiators and while he didn’t have the best of times with the bat, he was effective with the ball. The vice-captain was promoted to skipper for the last four games and although Kings couldn’t reach the final in their home city, he was a key wicket-taker even after missing three matches.
KAMRAN AKMAL, PESHAWAR ZALMI
Runs: 425, 100s: 1, 50s: 4, HS: 107*
He didn’t have the best of times in the final with that dropped catch and a single run but the 36-year-old can look back on a positive campaign. Finished second highest scorer and is the only man to have reached triple figures. Also hit the fastest fifty in the history of PSL off just 17 balls against Karachi Kings.
LUKE RONCHI, ISLAMABAD UNITED
Runs: 435, 100s: 0, 50s: 5, HS: 94*
After scores of 3 and 0 in his first two games, the ex-New Zealand batsman bounced back in style to end the season as a PSL winner and top-scorer. Stole the show in the Eliminator in Dubai with a stunning 94 off 34 deliveries against Karachi Kings before hitting the fourth fastest 50 in PSL off 25 balls. Finished with a strike rate of 182.00.
BABAR AZAM, KARACHI KINGS
Runs: 402, 100s: 0, 50s: 5, HS: 66
Already has impressed at international level in the 50-over format and the 23-year-old again showed his potential in T20s. Used either to open the batting or at No.3, Azam was one of the consistent batsmen for Karachi Kings. Scored three consecutive half-centuries and added to that tally with his final knock against Peshawar Zalmi.
FAKHAR ZAMAN, LAHORE QALANDARS
Enjoy Fakhar Zaman's blistering inning of 94 off just 50 balls (9 Fours, 6 Sixes).— Saad IU/LQ 🇵🇰 (@SaadAwais22) March 14, 2018
- This is Highest individual score of this season.
- 3rd highest overall in PSL History.#LQvQG #QGvLQ pic.twitter.com/rlRZ6PyYvm
Runs: 277, 100s: 0, 50s: 1, HS: 94
With a team boasting the likes of Brendon McCullum, it would’ve needed a series of fine efforts to finish as his side’s top batsman and that’s exactly what Zaman did. In a disappointing season for Lahore Qalandars, the 27-year-old hit 49 in his first game but his best was to come with his 94 in the victory over Quetta Gladiators.
SHANE WATSON, QUETTA GLADIATORS
Runs: 319, 100s: 0, 50s: 2, HS: 90*
The Australian showed once again of his all-round abilities with a series of superb displays with the bat and ball. The 36-year-old took three wickets in his opening game and managed to get a scalp each in nine of his 10 matches. With the bat, played an instrumental role to seal a play-off spot.
KUMAR SANGAKKARA, MULTAN SULTANS
Runs: 269, 100s: 0, 50s: 3, HS: 63
Catches: 9 Stumping: 1
The Sri Lankan is still proving he still has what it takes to be competitive on the biggest stages. Smashed three half-centuries in his first four matches and although the runs dried towards the end, finished as eighth highest scorer. The 40-year-old was also handy behing the stumps, with nine catches.
IMRAN TAHIR, MULTAN SULTANS
Wickets: 13, Economy: 7.24
Playing in his first-ever PSL, the South African rose to the occasion in the UAE. Despite being the joint-fourth best wicket-taker in the tournament, the leg-spinner became the third cricketer in PSL history to take a hat-trick against Quetta Gladiators and regularly took wickets as Multan Sultans missed out on the play-offs by one point.
FAHEEM ASHRAF, ISLAMABAD UNITED
Wickets: 18, Economy: 7.75
A man who only made his T20I debut in the World Series last September, Ashraf is continuing to thrive. The 24-year-old medium-pacer was a constant threat for the batsmen and even bowled a maiden. Was rewarded with 18 scalps – the joint-highest of the competition but ironically hit the winning runs to clinch the title.
WAHAB RIAZ, PESHAWAR ZALMI
Wickets: 18, Economy: 6.90
Peshawar Zalmi’s best bowler by some distance and joint highest wicket-taker in the tournament, Riaz was just unfortunate to settle for a runners-up medal. At a time, when a result was needed in a patchy campaign, the 32-year-old left-armer took matters in his own hands to take charge with the ball and deliver.
USMAN KHAN, KARACHI KINGS
Wickets: 16, Economy: 8.02
Having returned from a back injury, the 24-year-old gave the opposing batsmen a taste of their own medicine on more than one occassion. With an array of bowling talent in the team with the likes of Mohammad Amir, Tymal Mills, Shahid Afridi and Imad Wasim, Usman upstaged them all to finish as his side’s top wicket-taker in the competition.
12TH MAN – SAMIT PATEL, ISLAMABAD UNITED
Runs: 56, 100s: 0, 50s: 0
Wickets: 13 , Economy: 6.96
For someone who was only drafted into the squad after Asela Gunaratne opted out, the Englishman certainly played a big part for the newly-crowned champions. Runs were hard to come by but with the ball, he did the job even in fewer games than his rivals with 13 scalps.
The third edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) culminated with a glittering final at the National Stadium in Karachi on Sunday. At the end of the month-long T20 competition, Islamabad United captured their second PSL title with an entertaining three-wicket win over Peshawar Zalmi in front of a jam packed crowd in Pakistan’s largest city.
Here, we take a look at the three things learnt from the third edition of the PSL.
PROMISE OF AN EVEN GREATER FUTURE
While the inaugural edition of the PSL was held exclusively in the UAE, the second edition was the finals was held at the Gaddafi stadium in Lahore amidst water-tight security. With Pakistan still reeling from the effects of Sri Lanka’s ill-fated tour in 2009, the Lahore finals represented a watershed moment. The city would later go on to host the ICC World XI for a historic T20I series later before hosting a one-off game between Pakistan and Sri Lanka
This year, Karachi was added to the roster for the PSL with the finals being awarded to the city. It delivered in style as fans got to see international stars playing in front of them after eternity.
The small baby steps have been paying off for Pakistan cricket and PCB chief Najam Sethi is confident of hosting at least half the matches in the country next year. With how smoothly things have gone so far, it is not outside the realms of possibilities to see that happening.
NEED FOR COMMITMENT FROM INTERNATIONAL STARS
With many overseas recruits in the various franchises opting to skip the Pakistan leg due to security concerns, Pakistan fans have been robbed off the chance to witness their stars up close. Plenty of former players including Moin Khan have raised their objection to this practice.
There have been rising calls to only contract those foreign players who are willing to make the travel to Pakistan when the need arises. It is hard to disagree with that view if the PSL really wants to move forward as the spectacle gets slightly diluted in the absence of the major stars.
PSL CONTINUES TO SERVE AS SPRINGBOARD FOR FRESH TALENT
The PSL has served as a platform to launch several young Pakistan stars into the national reckoning and limelight in the past two editions. The likes of Shadab Khan and Hasan Ali are two such stars who have emerged out of the competition. This year too, the likes of young pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hussain Talat, Hasan Khan and Mohammed Irfan have all announced themselves to the world with their performances.
Young Afridi is already attracting interest from a couple of Big Bash League (BBL) franchises. It would not be surprising to see a few of these names make their Pakistan senior debut very soon in the limited-overs format.