KARACHI: The grand finale to the sports extravaganza – staged in the country after a long cricketing drought – on Sunday signaled a definite triumph of peace. As a packed to capacity National Stadium cheered their favourite teams, Quetta Gladiators pulled off victory to take the trophy home. It was their fourth and most important match against Peshawar Zalmi this season, and they succeeded in sealing their maiden HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) title. Gladiators stormed past Zalmi with relative ease courtesy to an unbeaten innings of 58 not out off 51 balls from Ahmed Shehzad.
Zalmi needed early wickets after posting a modest total on the board and Umar Amin gave Zalmi the much-needed breakthrough by nailing a direct hit, to get the big fish Shane Watson out for just 7 runs.
Gladiators ease past Zalmi to claim maiden HBL PSL title
Despite losing Watson early on, Gladiators remained in control of the run-chase with Ahmed Shehzad shepherding the innings with Ahsan Ali.
Wahab Riaz raised some hopes of a fightback when he removed middle-order batsman Ahsan Ali for 21.
However, Shehzad found an able ally in left-handed batsman Rilee Rossouw. They formed an unbeaten partnership of 72 to complete a comfortable chase.
It was a contrasting story when Peshawar Zalmi batted.
Earlier, Zalmi posted 138-8 in their 20 overs, after Gladiators won the toss and opted to field first.
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Despite losing Opener Imamul Haq in the second over, his partner Kamran Akmal gave Zalmi a blazing start to their innings. However, he attempted one shot too many and got stumped for 21, leaving Zalmi with two wickets down for 31 in 4 overs.
Middle-order duo of Amin and Sohaib Maqsood tried to put the innings back on track, but could not capitalise on their starts, falling for 38 and 20, respectively.
Gladiators had Zalmi on the floor as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals, losing half the side for 96 in 15 overs.
Their hopes of mustering a competitive total rested on their captain Daren Sammy, who along with All-rounder Kieron Pollard and Lower-order bat Wahab Riaz could only accumulate 42 runs in the last five overs.
Young pacer, Mohammad Hasnain bagged three wickets while the all-rounder Dwayne Bravo claimed two wickets for the Gladiators.
Mohammad Hasnain of the Gladiators won the man of the match award for taking three wickets for 30.
According to espncricinfo.com, the closing ceremony, understandably, was stripped to bare bones, shorn of all the dances that adorned the opening ceremony as a mark of respect for the victims of the terror attacks in Christchurch over the weekend.
Unfortunately, the un-embellished nature of the festivities extended to the cricket itself, throwing up a final largely devoid of all the drama, theatre and excitement that enlivened so many games across the PSL this season.
That did not detract from Quetta Gladiators' near-flawless performance, as the best team in the competition rose to the occasion on its most important day to inflict a heavy defeat on Peshawar Zalmi.