Will the PSL final in Lahore be everything we hoped for?
The playoffs of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) kept the spectators on the edge of their seats with every match turning out to be an absolute classic. All three matches lived up to the expectations with some high quality cricket on show.
Let’s take a look at the game changing performances from the knockout stage of Pakistan’s premier T20 league.
Ahmed Shehzad’s blistering knock
A good start is always a good omen for any side in a knockout match and this is precisely what Ahmed Shehzad did for the Quetta Gladiators. The opener took full advantage of the favourable batting conditions as he spanked the Peshawar Zalmi bowlers to all parts of the ground with considerable ease. His free flowing stroke play was a treat to watch and almost every shot came off the middle of the bat.
Shehzad’s contribution at the top of the order, 71 runs off just 38 balls, was instrumental in his side posting 200 runs on the board. For this superb knock Shehzad was also adjudicated player of the match in the first playoff.
Mohammad Nawaz’s jaw-dropping final over
Left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz held his nerve to see his side through from a virtually impossible situation. Although Nawaz went for 46 runs in his first three over’s but he repaid the trust of his captain and bowled a magnificent final at a time when the odds were stacked against considering he had a wet ball in his hands and massive dew around.
Zalmi looked on course for a victory with just seven needed off the final over but despite conceding a four on the second ball of the over; Nawaz made a solid comeback to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat and hence ensured that his side qualified for the final once again.
Karachi Kings spin duo rattles Islamabad United
The Karachi Kings were defending a moderate total of 127 runs in the eliminator against the defending champions Islamabad United and a win seemed a distant reality. But the Kings’ spinners, Imad Wasim and Usama Mir, had other ideas as they bamboozled the batsmen with their artistic spin bowling picking up three wickets each.
The spin combo did not let the batsmen off the hook and continued the good work started by Mohammad Amir, who picked up two key wickets, with the new ball. In a total of eight overs, the duo went for just 42 runs and kept a check on their opponents scoring rate as well as picking up wickets along the way.
Kamran Akmal knocks out the Kings
Wicket-keeper batsman Kamran Akmal rose to the occasion in the final knockout match against the in-form Kings with a match winning knock. Opening the innings, Akmal dominated the Kings’ bowlers from the word go and scored an amazing century, the first of this year’s PSL, to make Zalmi the frontrunners to win this crucial match. His magnificent innings included six fours and seven massive sixes with some truly delightful shots all over the park.
Akmal’s ton helped Zalmi set a more than decent target of 182 runs which proved too much for the Kings as the men in yellow claimed victory by 24 runs.
Wahab Riaz delivered when it mattered most
Left-arm pacer Wahab Riaz has been in red-hot form with the ball in this year’s PSL and in the crunch knockout match he was again at his absolute best. Riaz ended with figures of three 24 in his full quota of four overs and was Captain Darren Sammy’s go-to guy whenever he needed a wicket. The pacer’s spell was a complete package with slower balls, bouncers and yorkers to complement his accurate line and length.
Riaz picked up the wicket of the Kings’ Skipper Kumar Sangakkara towards the beginning of the innings and then later returned towards the middle overs to bag the prized scalp of Chris Gayle. Keiron Pollard brought the Kings back into reckoning and was threatening to take the game away from the Zalmis but it was Riaz, once again, who provided the crucial breakthrough and sealed the match for his side.
The mega final
It will be Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators who will lock horns in the final at Lahore as both teams look to lift the title. It can be safely said that two of the best teams of this year’s PSL have made it to the final and the ultimate battle will be nothing short of exciting.