By Shahid Hashmi
Peshawar Zalmi trounced Quetta Gladiators by 58 runs in the final to win the second edition of the Pakistan Super League before a packed 25,000-strong Gaddafi Stadium gathering on Sunday (March 5).
Mohammad Asghar, the left-arm spinner, took 3 for 16 as Quetta, chasing 149 for victory, were bowled out for 90 in 16.3 overs in a match held two days after the eighth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in 2009.
Those brazen attacks suspended all international cricket in Pakistan, with the country only managing to host Zimbabwe in a short limited-overs series in May 2015.
Unprecedented security arrangements were put in place for the final, with 8000 police and army staff on guard and fans searched at three check points.
On being put in to bat, Peshawar rode on 40 from Kamran Akmal and a late flourish from Darren Sammy, the captain, to post 148 for 6 from their 20 overs.
Quetta were never in the hunt as they lost wickets at regular intervals. Asghar took the key wickets of Anam-ul-Hoque (3), Mohammad Nawaz (0) and Sean Ervine (24).
Mohammad Hafeez dismissed Sarfraz Ahmed for 22 while Ahmed Shahzad made just one before he fell to the medium pace of Hasan Ali. Wahab Riaz also chipped in with 2 for 13.
Earlier, it was Rayad Emrit, the West Indian discard, who derailed the Peshawar innings with figures of 3 for 31 from his four overs.
Emrit brought up his 100th wicket in Twenty20 matches by breaking an opening stand of 42 when he bowled Dawid Malan for 17.
Akmal followed up his century in the playoff against Karachi Kings with a 32-ball 40 which included a six and six fours. He finished the tournament as the highest run-getter with 353 runs.
Emrit removed Hafeez (12) and Iftikhar Ahmed (14 off 21 balls) in the 17th over as Peshawar lost five wickets in the space of 30 runs.
Peshawar missed Shahid Afridi’s power hitting after the maverick all-rounder was ruled out of the final with a hand injury. However, Sammy provided late fireworks by powering three sixes in his 11-ball 28 not out.
The winners get US $600,000 along with a crystal trophy while Peshawar had to be satisfied with $200,000. Karachi receive a cash prize of $100,000 for finishing third.
It was fitting that the title was claimed by Peshawar, who also won back-to-back National Twenty20 titles in 2014 and 2015.