PSL 2018: Of Kamran Akmal’s ton and Umar Gul’s six-for

Sportstar takes a look at some of the top batting and bowling performances from the just-concluded third season of Pakistan Super League.

Akmal single-handedly led Peshawar Zalmi to the playoffs with his unbeaten 107 off 61 balls – the only century of the season (11x4, 7x6).   -  Facebook/Pakistan Super League

An enthralling season of the Pakistan Super League culminated in Misbah-ul-Haq-led Islamabad United winning its second title in three seasons, beating Peshawar Zalmi, captained by Darren Sammy, in the final by three wickets.

While the United Arab Emirates leg of the tournament did not draw many fans to the venue, the knockout fixtures played in Pakistan (Lahore and Karachi) drew capacity crowds. Pakistani cricket fans, who have been deprived of regular international cricket, were treated with some high-quality cricket.

Read: IU becomes Pakistan Super League champion for second time

The National Stadium in Karachi, where the final was played, hosted a high-profile cricket match for the first time in nine years. Pakistan Cricket Board chairman, Najam Sethi, is hopeful of Pakistan hosting more PSL matches next season.

Here is Sportstar’s selection of the batting and bowling performances from the season.

Kamran Akmal’s unbeaten 107 vs Lahore Qalandars

Akmal single-handedly led Peshawar Zalmi to the playoffs with his unbeaten 107 off 61 balls (11x4, 7x6) – the only century of the season. Chasing 173 for victory, in a must-win match, Zalmi romped to a seven-wicket win with 12 balls to spare.

This was Akmal’s second PSL hundred and fourth overall in T20 cricket.

This was an all-encompassing innings in that it was constructed with a combination of finesse, timing, placement, and the power of the bottom hand. Akmal’s driving and ability to pick the gaps helped him find the boundary during the Powerplay, and once the field spread out, he was also able to open his shoulders up and play the lofted shots that brought him and Zalmi the maximum value.

Mohammad Nawaz’s 2/4 in four overs vs Lahore Qalandars

Four overs, four runs, two wickets: this was Mohammad Nawaz’s truly astounding spell of left-arm orthodox spin for Quetta Gladiators against Lahore Qalandars.

All four runs came in singles and he finished his spell with 20 dot balls!

Nawaz finished the season with the best economy rate (5.44) for a spinner.

Akmal’s 77 vs Karachi Kings

61.17 per cent (260) of the Pakistan wicketkeeper-batsman’s runs in the tournament (425) came in his last five innings (two half-centuries and one century).

And this, too, like his unbeaten 107, came at an opportune time: in a virtual semifinal clash against Karachi Kings.

Asked to bat first in a match reduced to 16 overs due to rain and a wet outfield, Zalmi posted a formidable total of 170, courtesy Akmal’s 27-ball 77 (5x4, 8x6). Akmal reached his half-century off just 17 balls, the fastest fifty in PSL.

Luke Ronchi’s unbeaten 94 vs Karachi Kings

The New Zealand wicketkeeper-batsman finished the third season of PSL as the highest run scorer, with 435 runs in 11 innings for Islamabad United. And his two most significant knocks came in the first qualifier and in the final.

His unbeaten 94 (12x4, 5x6), came in the qualifier against Karachi Kings, off just 39 balls. Chasing a mediocre 155, Islamabad won by seven wickets and with 45 balls to spare.

Ronchi’s penchant for aerial strokes shone in this innings. He had recorded the fastest fifty in PSL (19 balls) until Akmal bettered it with his 17-ball half-century.

Umar Gul’s 6/24 vs Quetta Gladiators

Playing his first match of the season, Gul struck twice each in two overs (17th and 19th) to give Multan Sultans a slim hope of successfully defending its total of 152. However, Quetta overhauled the target with a ball to spare.

Despite his heroics, Gul went on to play only one more match for Multan Sultans, which was making its PSL debut this past season and had stuck to a settled playing XI.