Fireworks light up the evening during the closing ceremony of the Pakistan Super League at the Dubai International Stadium. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The Pakistan Super League (PSL) concluded at Dubai International Stadium with a colourful closing ceremony after 20 days of high-octane cricket at the Dubai International Stadium. Quetta Gladiators and Islamabad United later battled it out in the final for the glittering crystal trophy designed by Swarovski.

The league, which started off amid doubts about its likely impact since it was being held outside Pakistan, turned out to be a whopping success. All the 23 matches leading to the final produced cricket of the highest standard, while the closing ceremony, complete with fireworks and entertainment, were the reflection of Pakistan cricket’s will to succeed.

A packed stadium watched most of the matches, including the final, suggesting that the tournament may go on to become a permanent fixture in the UAE’s cricket calendar. A day before the final, the PCB had to announce that all tickets were sold out and even requested fans not to try to get into the stadium in case they did not have tickets. During the matches at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, cricket fans almost created a traffic jam as they thronged streets enxious to get tickets.

It was a great opportunity for Pakistan players to share the dressing room with big names like Kevin Pietersen, Chris Gayle, Kumar Sangakkara and Darren Sammy and play alongside them. Even the international stars were impressed by the Pakistan cricketers’ enthusiasm.

Pietersen, who turned out for Quetta in the final, said earlier: “I have been very impressed with how they trained while watching them in practice and realised how competitive they have been. Our guys in the team are certainly full of questions. In dressing room, on team bus, they all ask questions about batting and bowling. I liked associating with these youngsters.”

Najam Sethi, the chairman of the PCB, said: “We have shown the world we could stage a top class league. It has generated so much interest not only in Pakistan but in other countries as well. It has given us a huge boost.”

Karchi Kings coach Mickey Arthur hailed the PSL as a fantastic experience. “The organisation and quality of cricket was superb. We don’t really know what is going on back in Pakistan but all the reports we have been getting have been unbelievably positive. If this competition was held in Pakistan, it would have been overwhelming. The standard of the cricket in this league has been particularly high and this competition will go from strength to strength.”

England’s Ravi Bopara, who gave a sterling performance for the Karachi Kings, said: “PSL is right up there. This has been the second highest in standard after IPL. It has been a fantastic competition, one of the most enjoyable for me.”

Bopara’s comment was echoed by all the foreign stars who played in the PSL’s inaugural edition.