The Pakistan Super League's standout stars

Sport360 staff 24/02/2016
Who impressed you during the tournament.

Islamabad United claimed victory by six wickets in Tuesday’s final, defeating the Quetta Gladiators in the tournament’s showpiece.

And a number of their players impressed with Andre Russell leading the wicket-taking column and Sharjeel Khan bludgeoning the most sixes.

Elsewhere, Umar Akmal ended up the tournament’s highest run-scorer, while Ravi Bopara produced the best individual performance of the tournament.

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PCB chairman Najam Sethi confident PSL success will see cricket return to Pakistan

Barnaby Read 24/02/2016
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Sethi hopes the PSL will rejuvenate Pakistan cricket.

Sethi, who held the same role within the PSL, has had assurances from government security officials in Karachi that the safety of players will not be compromised and believes that the first edition of the tournament can be the catalyst for cricket of substance to head back to Pakistan.

The international team have not played on home soil since the 2009 Lahore attack on the Sri Lanka team bus and have played the majority of their cricket in the UAE ever since.

And at the conclusion of the PSL, also played in Dubai and Sharjah in the emirates, Sethi cut a bullish figure as he stated that discussions with foreign stars have already begun about playing two fixtures of next year’s PSL in Pakistan.

“The security apparatus in Pakistan, and in particular Karachi, have assured me that they would guarantee the security of a match held in the city,” said Sethi. “But if even the smallest incident happened we’d be set back a decade. We have to be very careful.

“Kevin Pietersen and Dean Jones have expressed their willingness to play in Pakistan at next year’s PSL if we play there and I will hold them to their word.

“We will try and play the opening game and final in Pakistan next year.”

Sethi also claimed that the PCB has an available slot in September to play arch rivals India, a series first slated to be played in the UAE in December and then Sri Lanka before it was eventually canned as discussions with the BCCI and the respective governments collapsed.

“We have a slot in September reserved to play India but it depends on their government,” said Sethi. “If the BCCI get the approval from the Indian government then we can try to play that series in September.

“India owe us a series, at least two and they must play us at home before we play there. This is a board decision.”

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Islamabad beat Quetta to become first PSL champions

Barnaby Read 23/02/2016
Islamabad ran out eventual winners.

Brad Haddin (61*) and Dwayne Smith (73) were the heroes for Islamabad as they chased down Quetta’s total of 174-4 with alarming ease.

The curtain came down on the PSL at a sold out Dubai International Cricket Stadium, with the fireworks of the closing ceremony a fitting tribute to the sparks created by the tournament’s first edition.

As the crowds slowly filtered through the gates in Dubai, the atmosphere built at a pace with a nervous excitement emanating from the anticipant crowd.

Those in attendance, just shy of the 25,000 capacity, were raucous and created a cacophony of noise from the get-go.

Whether it was the fireworks or music in the build-up, the national anthems, wickets and boundaries or at the behest of the stadium’s emcee, a rapturous crowd showed its support in only the way Pakistan cricket fans know; loudly and feverishly.

And the action on the pitch began in a fitting manor, Quetta opener Bismillah Khan nicking off to Brad Haddin off Mohammad Irfan for a duck just three balls in.

It was early reward for Islamabad captain Misbah-ul-Haq who won the toss and elected to field after inspection of another batting paradise of a track in Dubai.

Kevin Pietersen entered the scene of his third T20 final on the bounce but despite some early authority he was superbly caught for 18 by Asif Ali off Andre Russell.

Quetta were in danger of their innings faltering before it even got going but Ahmed Shehzad and Kumar Sangakkara came together in a frenetic third wicket partnership of 87 that put them in a position to post a strong total.

Shehzad was handed a lifeline on 38 when he skied Irfan to Khalid Lateef at mid-off but the fielder shelled a huge opportunity.

It seemed to kick start the pair into gear, sparking Sangakkara into using his feet to punish Lateef’s bowling with imposing strokes through mid-wicket and down the ground.

The Sri Lankan paced his innings masterfully and reached his fifty from 30 balls with another maximum down the ground but fell two balls later for 55.

Shehzad was still there, though, and the Pakistan opener reached a half century of his own an over later.

He had despatched a single six and 9 fours by the time he departed for 64 from 39 balls, ramping Mohammad Sami straight to Samuel Badree at short fine-leg with Quetta 147-5 in the 17th over.

Some late hitting saw Quetta post 174-7 from their 20 overs, setting up a thrilling run chase.

Irfan (2-25) and Andre Russell (3-36) were the pick of the bowlers for Islamabad.

And they wasted no time in reply, Dwayne Smith and centurion in the last match Sharjeel Khan bludgeoning 15 from the first over.

It looked like there was no stopping the pair as they raced to 53-0 in 5.2 overs thanks, both openers looking remarkably fluid as they cleared the ropes and found gaps at will.

But two balls later Quetta finally had their breakthrough, Sharjeel skipping down the wicket to Nathan McCullum but getting nowhere near the ball and being bowled for 13.

Smith continued his onslaught and raced to fifty in double quick time before, like Shehzad, being given a lifeline on 52 as he was dropped in the deep off Muhammad Nawaz.

By the time Smith and Brad Haddin had made fifty for the second wicket, Islamabad were cruising along at 104-1 and eight overs remaining.

Haddin eased to his fifty from 31 balls, only for Smith to depart with the next delivery for a smashing 73 off 51 balls.

It opened a door for Quetta and despite Russell hitting a brutal six over cover off his first ball, he perished in the next over to Aizaz Cheema.

And despite Lateef departing for 16 late on there were no further problems for Islamabad, who took victory with eight balls to spare.

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