Luke Ronchi slammed a 26-ball 52 (Image courtesy: AFP)
Luke Ronchi finished the tournament as the highest run-getter. He scored 435 runs at a strike rate of 182. (Image courtesy: AFP)

Karachi was deprived of quality cricket for nine long years. Finally, the PSL 2018 final went underway and Islamabad United pulled off an all-round show to win the title for the second time; this time pulling off a three-wicket win over defending champions Peshwar Zalmi. The key architects of Islamabad s win were Luke Ronchi, Shadab Khan, Samit Patel and of course, Asif Ali.

Islamabad were cruising towards an easy win before Hasan Ali and Wahab Riaz derailed their momentum. Chasing 149, Islamabad were 96 for no loss in the ninth over, before stumbling to 116 for 6 after 14 overs. Asif Ali smacked three consecutive sixes off Hasan Ali in the 16th over to change the momentum. He was aided by Karman Akmal s dropped catch.

Earlier, Darren Sammy of Peshwar won the toss and elected to bat. JP Duminy opened the bowling with Patel, knowing Karman Akmal s weakness against left-arm spin. Karman, who had been brilliant in the tournament, fell for a 9-ball 1.

Live Cricket Score, PSL 2018 Final, Islamabad United vs Peshawar Zalmi at Karachi: Islamabad clinch PSL 3 by 3 wickets
Live Cricket Score, PSL 2018 Final, Islamabad United vs Peshawar Zalmi at Karachi: Islamabad clinch PSL 3 by 3 wickets

Peshawar were 38 after the Powerplay and had lost their top three. Liam Dawson and Chris Jordan put up 52 for the fourth wicket but Shadab ran through the middle-order with his googlies. A late flourish from Wahab Riaz, who scored a 14-ball 28 not out, lifted the Peshawar total to 148.

Ronchi continued his maverick form. He belted 52 off just 26 balls to finish as the highest run-getter in PSL 2018. Ronchi s 435 runs have come at 43.5 and a strike rate of 182. Ronchi fell in the ninth over with the score at 96. It should have been a cakewalk from thereon.

Peshawar tightened the noose thereon. Islamabad batters overambitious approach helped. Wahab bowled a probing spell and Hasan Ali too came back well. Jordan took a fantastic catch at midwicket to send back Shadab as things got too close for comfort when they needed 33 off 36 balls with just four wickets in hand.

The short ball had worked for Hasan Ali and he tried it on Asif Ali, only to be hit for three consecutive sixes in the 16th over. Wahab got a late strike but for Islamabad, the win was a formality from thereon, much to the dismay of Darren Sammy.

But that did not stop him from giving the Karachi crowd a lap of honour.

‘More cricket in Pakistan’

Karachi became the second major venue to host international matches after Lahore hosted five international matches against Zimbabwe in 2015, as well as the PSL final in March last year, three World XI matches in September and one against Sri Lanka a month later.

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 Karachi.

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.

“Today is a historic moment for us that the cricket has returned to Karachi,” said Saqlain Sher, an employee at a telecommunication company.

“This match will send a positive image of Pakistan across the world.”

Another fan Rida Waqas was elated as she walks across the walk through gate.

“I am so happy that so many people have come and the security is good too,” said Rida. “We invite everyone to come and play in Pakistan.”

The last match Karachi hosted was a Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in February 2009, a week before the visitors were attacked in Lahore.

Brief scores

Peshawar Zalmi 148 for 9 in 20 overs [Chris Jordan 36 (26), Liam Dawson 33 (30), Wahab Riaz 28 (14)*; Samit Patel 4-0-26-2, Shadab Khan 4-0-25-3] lost to Islamabad United 154 for 7 in 16.5 overs [Luke Ronchi 52 (26), Sahibzada Farhan 44 (33), Asif Ali 26 (6)*; Wahab Riaz 3.5-0-28-2, Chris Jordan 3-0-22-2] by 3 wickets to win PSL 2018.

Man of the Match: Luke Ronchi

Man of the Tournament: Luke Ronchi

Most Runs: Luke Ronchi (435 runs at 43.50, SR 182)

Most Wickets: Faheem Ashraf, Wahab Riaz (18 wickets)

(Inputs from AFP)