Islamabad United were crowned the inaugural champions of the HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) after they beat Quetta Gladiators in the final by six wickets at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium late Tuesday.
Misbah opted to bowl first after winning the toss and the Gladiators, riding on the back of half-tons by Ahmed Shehzad (64) and Kumar Sangakkara (55), scored 174-7 in their 20 overs.
“Team played professionally,” said Misbah in the post-match interview.
“One hundred seventy-five is a big target in the final under pressure. We didn’t want to lose a lot of wickets inside the first ten overs. The bowlers also did well to restrict Quetta as they looked to go past 200 at a point.
“We wanted the PSL to happen for the last three years and we knew that it will be a hit. PSL chairman Najam Sethi and the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) efforts are commendable.”
In their chase, Dwayne Smith (73) and Brad Haddin (unbeaten 61) gelled to put up an 85-run partnership under pressure for the second wicket to help their team past the finishing line.
With the victory, Islamabad bagged a $500,000 winning purse and the coveted ‘Shooting Star’ trophy. Quetta will take home a winning prize of $200,000 as the runner-ups.
Meanwhile, Quetta captain Sarfraz Ahmed said: “Heartiest congratulations to Islamabad United for the win. We put up a good score on the board but it was their day.”
Moreover, Sethi once again reiterated his promise to bring PSL to Pakistan in the upcoming editions.
“The wishes of the Pakistani fans have come true in the shape of PSL,” said the PSL chairman. “The world is watching that Pakistan is a peaceful country. Pakistan has shown today that they can do anything in the world. I promise you that we will take this PSL to Pakistan with more effort and hardwork.”
Team peaked at the right moment: Wasim
The team diretor for Islamabad, legendary left-arm pacer Waism Akram, expressed his happiness in the following words: “I am thrilled; we are all thrilled [to win]. The team peaked at the right time. You do need experience but you also need young talent as well in this format. This is just the start of the [PSL] and it will get better with time.”
Islamabad coach Dean Jones, meanwhile, said: “It was not only about the older guys, it was also about the younger guys who will have learnt a lot from this experience.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2016.