Islamabad United wins Pakistan Super League

As the National Stadium in Karachi hosted its first high-profile game since the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Test in February, 2009, Islamabad United defeated Peshawar Zalmi by three wickets to clinch its second Pakistan Super League (PSL) title in Karachi on Sunday.

Islamabad United's Shadab Khan (second from left) celebrates with team-mates after dismissing Peshawar Zalmi skipper Darren Sammy in Karachi on Sunday.   -  AFP

As the National Stadium in Karachi hosted its first high-profile game since the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Test in February, 2009, Islamabad United defeated Peshawar Zalmi by three wickets to clinch its second Pakistan Super League (PSL) title in Karachi on Sunday.

Opting to bat first, defending champion, Peshawar Zalmi reached 148-9 in 20 overs, thanks to Wahab Riaz’s 14-ball 28 at the fag end of the innings. With the top-order batsmen failing to show resilience, Zalmi failed to put up a mammoth total on the board. Even though Chris Jordan played a knock of 36 and Liam Dawson chipped in with 33, those efforts were not enough to put up a challenging total.

In reply, Islamabad got off to a fascinating start, with Luke Ronchi’s knock of 52 and Sahibzada Farhan’s 44. While it reached 96-0 in 8.5 overs, things went downhill as the side lost seven quick wickets to add to the pressure. But things did not go out of thanks, thanks to Asif Ali’s knock of 26 in just six deliveries.

This is Islamabad United’s second title win. The side had bagged the PSL in its inaugural edition in 2016.

Sunday’s final was watched by a packed 33,000 crowd, including Pakistan's prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abassi.

It will be followed by three Twenty20 internationals against reigning World Twenty20 champions the West Indies on April 1, 2 and 3 -- all in Karach. PCB chairman Najam Sethi said more cricket will follow. “It’s a historic occasion as Karachi is hosting a match after a nine year gap,” said Sethi before the final.

Giles Clarke, director of International Cricket Council (ICC), praised Pakistan's efforts.

“Sethi is very courageous in his decision making,” said Clarke, also the head of Pakistan Task Team formed to help revive international cricket in Pakistan.

“Let this final be successful and we look forward to more matches. It's great that West Indies are coming here and that was important and I look forward to more teams coming and more grounds hosting matches in Pakistan.”

Fans weathered suffocating security arrangements, with 8,000 policemen and paramilitary staff guarding the venue and the various check posts in and around the stadium.

(With inputs from AFP)