Peshawar Zalmi on Sunday may have won the Pakistan Super League (PSL) but the real victory was that of the country, which after years of terrorism and turmoil was able to stage a landmark international event in Lahore.
Gaddafi Stadium, filled from one corner to the other with cricket fanatics, roared the message of peace and impending prosperity when international cricketers from West Indies, South Africa, Zimbabwe and England appeared in the stadium representing the two finalist teams.
At the conclusion of the event, the world saw what Pakistan, a nation which has been fighting terrorism for the last decade, could do when they united for a single cause – to bring international cricket back to Pakistan and more importantly to send out a message that we are a peaceful nation who wants to be known for our hospitality.
We will not bow down before anyone: Sethi
PSL chairman Najam Sethi, the man behind the successful organisation of the event, said it was a victory to be named to Pakistan and the country will not bow down to anyone or anything.
"Zinda dilane Lahore, Zinda dilane Pakistan, I thank you all very much,” said PSL chairman Najam Sethi while addressing the crowd during the closing ceremony. “This PSL is yours. If you were not with us, then this would not have happened. Today we have people from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Karachi and Balochistan here in Lahore. They are here from every nook and corner [of the country]. This sends out a message that we are united, we will not bow down before anyone or anything.”
Sethi, sunk in emotion, then thanked the people of Pakistan for supporting the idea of holding the final in Pakistan and said tonight’s victory will be named to Pakistan. "I just want to say may the best team, but whoever wins or loses, in the end, Pakistan will win today.”
Positive message to the world: Afridi
Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi echoed Sethi’s words and said the event will send out a positive message to the world.
“I am here to support foreign players who came in for the final,” said Afridi. “I want to thank [Peshawar Zalmi captain Darren] Sammy and everyone else for coming out. This [final] will send a positive message to the world.”
Sarfraz Ahmed: “The target was chase-able. We didn’t bat well. We lost five wickets in first six overs; that was the turning point. I want to thank the crowd in Lahore. I want to felicitate PCB. They managed the whole event very well. I want to thank all the forces: army, police, rangers and everyone else for providing security.”
Darren Sammy: “To me it’s more than just a game. It all started in the drafts. Lala [Afrdi] made me the captain, he was a better Pakistani player to support. One of our mottos was to bring back smiles and tonight there will be lot smiles on faces in Peshawar. I must thank PSL management for putting up a good event. The standard of cricket was good. I am happy I came [to the PSL].”
What happened in the final?
Peshawar were asked to bat first by Quetta Gladiators and they were able to manage 148-6 in 20 overs. Quetta, in their chase, felt the absence of their foreign players and were all out for a mere 90 in 16.3 overs.
Best wicketkeeper: Kamran Akmal (Peshawar Zalmi)
Man of the tournament: Kamran Akmal (Peshawar Zalmi)
Best batsman: Kamran Akmal (Peshawar Zalmi)
Best bowler: Sohail Khan (Karachi Kings)
Over 16.3: QUE 90 all out (Target 149)
Peshawar batting was under-par but their bowling was superb while defending a 149-run target. Two losses in two finals for Quetta now. They will have to wait one more year now to come back and win PSL. However, they were exceptional throughout the tournament. Meanwhile, party time for Peshawar Zalmi.
BOWLED! And with this Darren Sammy and Peshawar Zalmi can celebrate. It was in the block hole and the batsman was no way near hitting it.
Over 16: QUE 88-9 (Target 149)
OUT! Sammy takes a good catch. Youngster Hassaan Khan is gone. Peshawar one wicket away from the crown.
Shahid Afridi: Team is performing well so I am not disappointed to not being able to play today. Zalmi was being supported in Dubai and Sharjah too. The injury will take 10-12 days. I am here to support foreign players. This will send a positive message to the world.
Over 15: QUE 83-8 (Target 149)
OUT! Anwar Ali departs. Tries to clear midwicket but it caught in covers. Game, set for Peshawar, soon it will be match too!
Jordan bowls after a short break.
Strategic time out...
Over 14: QUE 80-7 (Target 149)
FOUR! Hit hard towards long on by Anwar Ali.
Darren Sammy himself now. Anwar Ali and Rayad Emrit batting for Quetta.
Over 13: QUE 72-7 (Target 149)
STUMPED! Quick hand work from Kamran Akmal and Nawaz's foot was in the air.
BOWLED! Sean Ervine departs for 24. Arm ball and Ervine is beaten by pace. Mohammad Nawaz joins Anwar Ali.
Over 12: QUE 69-5 (Target 149)
FOUR! Leg glance from Sean Ervine.
Over 11: QUE 60-5 (Target 149)
Only five off the over.
Asghar. The match is turning into a one-sided contest with every passing ball.
Over 10: QUE 55-5 (Target 149)
FOUR! Upper cut by Anwar Ali.
Over 9: QUE 48-5 (Target 149)
FOUR! Timed through covers by Sean Ervine. Can he pull off a miracle here? He has Anwar Ali on his side who can hit big.
Over 8: QUE 38-5 (Target 149)
Anwar Ali joins Sean Ervine.
OUT! Caught at long on. Saad Nasim's innings comes to and end. The Lahore boy is not going to inspire a victory here for Quetta.
Wahab Riaz is brought on.
Rayad Emrit: The pitch is good for batting and bowling both. I have no complains. It's been excellent. People in Pakistan are friendly. I have never been to Pakistan. The crowd is tremendous.
Over 7: QUE 37-4 (Target 149)
Six runs off the over. Quetta still need 112 off 78 balls.
Chris Jordan now.
Over 6: QUE 31-4 (Target 149)
Saad Nasim joins Sean Ervine.
STUMPED! Sarfraz tries to charge to Hafeez but he pulls the length back. Batsman is beaten and Akmal takes the bails off with utter ease. Quetta feeling the absence of KP!
FOUR! Goes for the sweep. Sarfraz doesn't want to leave the job to anyone else. He wants to finish it himself. Great example being set by the captain.
FOUR! Exposes his stumps but gets the straighter ball past the short third man fielder. Sarfraz is the man for Quetta!
Off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez on now.
Over 5: QUE 20-3 (Target 149)
FOUR! Sarfraz still going strong. He has to stay there till the end if Quetta want to win this one.
Sean Ervine joins Sarfraz Ahmed.
OUT! Ahmad Shahzad top-edges and the on side fielder in under it. Quetta falling like a pack of cards at the moment. Peshawar on top! They are checking for a no-ball but some part of the Hasan's foot is behind the line. It's out!
Hasan Ali again. Third over on the trot. Sammy knows the importance of a few more wickets.
Over 4: QUE 13-2 (Target 149)
FOUR! Sarfraz attacking Asghar whole-heartedly. Dances down and goes towards unguarded midwicket.
FOUR! Misfield and Sarfraz cuts it towards point. Hafeez dives but overdoes it. The ball sneaks underneath him.
OUT! Caught by the long-off fielder. Anamul Haque departs cheaply too. Captain Sarfraz Ahmed walks out in demanding times for Quetta.
Over 3: QUE 5-1 (Target 149)
DROPPED! Edge and it flies quickly to captain Sammy at first slip. It hits his chest and falls down. Anamul Haque survives.
Hasan Ali again.
Over 2: QUE 2-1 (Target 149)
One run and a wicket off the over.
RUN OUT! Morne van Wyk is unlucky.
Left-arm spin from Mohammad Asghar now.
Over 1: QUE 1-0 (Target 149)
Only one run off the over.
Hasan Ali bowls the first over. Ahmed Shehzad and Morne van Wyk open the chase for Quetta.
Over 20: PES 149-4
Peshawar have set a decent enough total for Quetta Gladiators to chase. At the start, they were set to score better than this but Sammy with a few sixes brought Peshawar to a respectable total. It's Quetta's to win now but Peshawar won't let it happen that easily. Game on!
Last ball. Crowd chanting Sammy, Sammy, Sammy... he is beaten by a good one in the block hole.
SIX! This time it's over long on. Sammy helping Peshawar's cause.
On the roof top! Sammy puts it over midwicket. It's a big SIX.
Anwar Ali for the last over.
Over 19: PES 133-4
SIX! Straight over the bowler's head by captain Sammy.
Over 18: PES 115-4
Only three of Nawaz's penultimate over.
Over 17: PES 112-4
Two wickets and two runs off the over.
Over 16: PES 110-4
Anwar Ali. Starts with a wide. Five more off the over.
We are back after the strategic time out.
Over 15: PES 104-4
Zulfi goes for three runs.
Over 14: PES 101-4
FOUR! Hafeez plays it late and beats a diving short third man.
FOUR! Misfield and Iftikhar earns a boundary at midwicket. The fielder dived but took his eyes off the ball and missed it.
Peshawar ZALMI got to get around 170 plus to save the night but @ the moment they are losing momentum..— Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) March 5, 2017
Let's see ..
Over 13: PES 90-4
Zulfi is back for his third.
Over 12: PES 86-4
STUMPED! Khushdil Shah (1) is beaten by a wide but he was way down the pitch. Sarfraz removes the bails.
Hassaan again. More left-arm spin.
Over 11: PES 84-3
BOWLED! Marlon Samuels' (19 off 17) stumps are shattered. Hafeez welcomes Khushdil Shah to the pitch.
Over 10: PES 82-2
LBW! Kamran is given out. He departs for 40 off 32 balls. Mohammad Hafeez joins Samuels.
SIX! Over midwicket now by Marlon Samuels.
FOUR! Marlon Samuels dances forwards and beats the fielder to the extra cover boundary.
SIX! Kamran Akmal goes straight and high over the fence.
Hassaan with his left-arm spin again.
Over 9: PES 64-1
Pakistan singer Shehzad Roy: Today's match is between Pakistan and Terrorism and we have come out victorious.
FOUR! Short and wide Akmal cuts it nicely.
Anwar Ali is back.
"You don't have to be at the match to hear the crowd roaring,everyone all over the world can hear it,we are all partof it. Its ours tonight"— Wasim Akram (@wasimakramlive) March 5, 2017
Over 8: PES 57-1
Only three off the over.
Mohammad Nawaz in for his second.
Over 7: PES 54-1
Only two off the over.
Over 6: PES 52-1
FOUR! Arm ball from Zulfi skids through and Akmal bags a lucky boundary as the ball beats the stumps and the keeper.
Over 5: PES 46-1
FOUR! Samuels enters and shows his prowess.
BOWLED! Inside edge and Malan's stumps light up. He departs after scoring 17 off 12. Marlon Samuels joins Akmal.
Rayad Emrit in for his second.
Over 4: PES 41-0
FOUR! Misfielded at point and Akmal bags a boundary.
Left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz, Quetta's hero against Peshawar in the first playoff, is on now.
Over 3: PES 34-0
Only six off the over. Good start from Peshawar.
FOUR! On Akmal's legs and he glances it towards square leg. Fielder dives but the ball kisses the fence.
West Indies' bowler Rayad Emrit bowls for Quetta.
Over 2: PES 28-0
FOUR! Driven through covers by Malan. What a great sight that shot.
FIRST SIX! Malan goes over long leg with a brilliantly timed pull.
Anwar Ali now.
Over 1: PES 13-0
FOUR! Another one by Akmal, this time he beats the cover fielder.
FOUR! Akmal cuts it past point.
FOUR! Akmal pulls a short ball towards midwicket.
Zulfiqar Babar to bowl the first over for Quetta. Dawid Malan and Kamran Akmal open for Peshawar.
Sarfraz Ahmed opts to bowl first against Peshawar. He thinks dew will play a vital role in the second innings.
PSL Chairman Najam Sethi
"Zinda dilane Lahore, Zinda dilane Pakistan, I thank you all very much. This is PSL is yours. If you were not with us, then this would not have happened. Today we have people from K-P, G-B, Karachi, Balochistan. They are here from every nook and corner. We are united, we will not bow down before anyone. We can do anything if we work hard and with honesty."
"If people didn't tell me wherever I went that we want PSL in Lahore, then I would not have done this. People love cricket and we love our people."
"The team has worked hard day and night to make the PSL2 happen."
"I want to thank Shahbaz Sharif for taking a brave decision to hold the PSL final in Lahore. I also want to salute the Patron of our cricket board, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif."
"I just want to say may the best team, but whoever wins or loses, in the end Pakistan will win."
Opening ceremony (what the Twitterati is saying)
Whole world can see that Pakistan is a peaceful country we are against terrorism hat's off to all the foreign players #CricketComesHome— Syed Shehwar Naqvi (@ShehwarSyed) March 5, 2017
Who is saying what on Twitter
Excitement is in the air #HBLPSL. Cricket is bonding people across the country..Can there be a better 'agent of change' than this grt game!— Ramiz Raja (@iramizraja) March 5, 2017
Good luck to both Teams today, it's a special day for fans and beginning of new era for Pak Cricket inshALLAH. #Bringbackcricket— Ehsan adil (@ehsanadil007) March 5, 2017
I have now arrived in Lahore for @thePSLt20 Final. The— Dean Jones AM (@ProfDeano) March 4, 2017
Airport & Police security were fantastic ! Looking forward to having a good time!