SHARJAH: Quetta Gladiators’ foreign players Kevin Pietersen, Luke Wright, Rilee Rossouw and Tymal Mills have all pulled out of Pakistan Super League’s (PSL) final in Lahore on March 5 due to security concerns.
The quartet announced the decision via their official Twitter accounts after Gladiators emerged victorious in the play-off match against Peshawar Zalmi by just one run in Sharjah.
On Tuesday, last year’s finalists pulled off a nerve-racking last-over win. Defending a 201-run target, Gladiators’ spinner Mohammad Nawaz took three wickets off the last three balls to send a packed 19,000 stadium into a frenzy.
Zalmi were cruising along nicely needing just 20 runs in the last three overs after Mohammad Hafeez knocked 77 and Dawid Malan smashed 56. Shahid Afridi, with four sixes and a boundary in a 13-ball 34, pushed Zalmi to the brink of victory but Gladiators kept their nerve to pull off a sensational win.
Gladiators were lifted to 200-7 by Ahmed Shehzad’s 38-ball 77 spiced with four sixes and seven boundaries while Kevin Pietersen made a rapid-fire 22-ball 40. They now fly to Lahore to play the final on Sunday.
The second play-off will be between defending champions Islamabad United and Karachi Kings in Sharjah on Wednesday. The winner of that match will play Peshawar in Dubai on Friday to decide who meets Quetta in the final.
The final will be held under tight security after deadly blasts in Lahore.
The fate of the eagerly-awaited last match of the Twenty20 cricket league had been hanging in the balance since a string of deadly terrorist attacks raised security concerns in Pakistan.
However, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif cleared the air on Monday, saying that the PSL final would be played at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium at any cost. “Everybody has to work with determination, enthusiasm and devotion for making the final match successful,” he said while presiding over a meeting of the Provincial Cabinet Committee on Law and Order which he had convened to review the security situation in the wake of recent bombings in the metropolis.
The provincial government had also sought input from other provincial and federal security institutions before making the decision.
Shehbaz hoped that with people’s support the match would be made a resounding success. “No conspiracy of the enemy will be allowed to succeed,” he added. “We will live up to expectations of the masses. The nefarious designs of terrorists and their facilitators will be foiled.”
The chief minister said 100 per cent foolproof security would be ensured for the PSL final. He directed the cabinet committee to make best arrangements for the match and also review security and other measures on a daily basis while he himself would regularly review progress of all arrangements.
According to the provincial government, as many as 7,000 policemen, including 12 SPs, 35 DSPs and 84 SHOs will be deployed at Qaddafi Stadium for security.
Shehbaz said the decision to hold the PSL final in Lahore has been taken in the best interest of the country and its citizens. He appealed to the nation to support his administration’s efforts for the success of the match.