Dubai: The Pakistan Super League (PSL) has a new name on the trophy in Quetta Gladiators. The PSL silverware that eluded the team twice despite reaching the final in 2016 and 2017 was lifted by skipper Sarfraz Ahmad on Sunday night at the National Stadium in Karachi through an eight-wicket win over Peshawar Zalmi.
Their title triumph is the culmination of the hard work put in by the Quetta team management, led by their mentor and legendary batsman Viv Richards.
He inspired one and all through not only his tips but also through his aura.
Sarfraz was first to thank the men behind the scenes and the Quetta support. “Credit goes to the team management, and to the crowd,” he said. Richards also hailed his team’s support staff along with the players. “This is what we worked hard for. I must thank Nadeem Omar (owner), the backroom staff, everyone who has walked on the field. We were a family, and we sustained — that’s what it’s all about.”
The hero of the match was Quetta’s 18-year-old right-arm medium pacer Mohammad Hussnain, who grabbed three crucial Peshawar wickets. The youngster’s spell of 3-30 restricted Peshawar to 138-8 in 20 overs.
Chasing the score, Ahmad Shehzad’s 51-ball unbeaten 58, with six boundaries and a six, helped Quetta reach the target in 17.5 overs.
Hussnain revealed help from his seniors allowed him to emerge as the match winner. “I learnt from the big players here,” he said. “I learnt a lot sharing the dressing room with them. I am trying to be more and more aggressive as I grow. There was no pressure for me, the teammates had given me confidence before the game’s start.”
Hussnain also went on to reveal how the upcoming 50-over matches against Australia in Dubai can help him make the Pakistan World Cup squad. “I want to do well in the ODIs against Australia and maybe get a spot in the World Cup squad as well.”
He added: “I want to thank the crowd for supporting cricket in Pakistan.”
However, it was Hasan Ali of Peshawar who bagged the best bowler of the tournament taking 25 wickets at an average of 13 with an economy-rate of just under seven.
Though Hussnain was the hero of the final, it was Quetta’s experienced campaigner and Australia’s legendary all-rounder Shane Watson who played a pivotal role in the team’s triumph. He emerged as the tournament’s leading run-getter with 430 runs from 12 matches at an average of 43 and a strike rate of 143.8. He hit the most number of fours (43) and sixes (22) in the tournament. He was rightly adjudged the player of the tournament and best batsman.
Peshawar skipper Darren Sammy was as sporting as he is always in his reaction to the defeat. “Congrats to Quetta,” he said. “Today they proved why they beat us in all matches this season but we are still proud that we came this far in this tournament and hard luck to us. We’re still proud to make three consecutive PSL finals. We’ve played a brand of cricket that we should be proud of.”
Quetta Gladiators bt Peshawar Zalmi by 8 wkts
Peshawar Zalmi 138-8 in 20 overs (Amin 38, Akmal 21; Hussnain 3-30)
Quetta Gladiators 139-2 in 17.5 overs (Shehzad 58*, Rossouw 39*; Riaz 1-19)
Best Bowler: Hasan Ali (Peshawar Zalmi)
Best Batsman: Shane Watson (Quetta Gladiators)
Best Player of PSL: Shane Watson (Quetta Gladiators)
Spirit of Cricket: Islamabad United
Emerging Player: Umer Khan (Karachi Kings)
Best player on the field: Kieron Pollard (Peshawar Zalmi)
Safe Hands: Wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi (Islamabad United)