Photo: The Nation
Asif Ali hit three consecutive sixes of the bowling of Hassan Ali under tense conditions to help Islamabad United win Pakistan Super League 2018 title here at National Stadium Sunday.
Islamabad United defeated holders Peshawar Zalmi by three wickets to reclaim the title they had won in the league's inaugural edition in 2016. United achieved the 149-run target in 16.5 overs courtesy to Luke Ronchi’s another quickfire fifty this season. United must thank Kamran Akmal, who dropped a simple catch of Asif.
Ronchi declared player of the tournament was named player of the final as well for his brilliant batting display. Rashid Riaz was the PSL 2018's best umpire, while Kamran Akmal awarded the 'best batsman' award. Kumar Sangakkara won the award for best wicketkeeper that was collected by Kamran Akmal on his behalf. Faheem Ashraf's 18 wickets earned him the 'best bowler' award.
Whereas JP Duminy got best fielder award for most catches. Islamabad United besides trophy also received $600,000 while Zalmi’s received $200,000 and Karachi Kings, who finished third in the PSL got $ 100,000.
United, who looked highly shaky in the end despite a sensational start provided by Ronchi and Shahibzada Farhan, soon found themselves in point of bother with quick wickets rattled their chase in the middle overs. And they would have been on losing side if Kamran not dropped a simple catch as match could have been headed for a close finish that could have gone either way.
United got off to whirlwind start as danger man, Ronchi simply thrashed Zalmi bowlers at will. His breath-taking innings was a treat to watch for the massive crowd who despite mainly supporting Zalmi were left with no other option but to enjoy Ronchi’s delightful batting who was simply playing match-winning innings.
United posted 50 in just 4 overs and Ronchi reached his half-century in 25 deliveries with the help of 4 boundaries and 5 towering sixes. United were cruising towards victory when their first wicket fell at 96 in the 9th over.
Chris Jordan, who earlier displayed his prowess with the bat, was man in form with ball as well for Zalmi and gave them first breakthrough by claiming Ronchi’s wicket. In the next over, Umaid Asif removed Chadwick Walton who went back to pavilion without troubling scorer.
Jordan bowled his heart out, when all the other bowlers were getting hammering from United batsmen and also removed captain JP Duminy to create panic among United ranks.
Farhan after playing so well for his 33-ball 44 played an unnecessary shot under pressure off Wahab Riaz to give a simple catch to Hasan and that opened a window of opportunity for Zalmi.
Zalmi further added pressure on United and Jordan and Hafeez took two superb catches to remove Shahdab Khan and Samit Patel of the bowling of Hassan and United were 116-6 in 15th over. At that moment Kamran squandered a chance to catch out Asif and subsequent throw went for a boundary giving United 6 runs and relieving the pressure.
Earlier, Zalmi skipper Darren Sami won the toss and opted to bat first on a perfect batting track but his decision failed to get desired results as Patel ripped through Zalmi’s top order with his sensational bowling.
Man in form, Kamran upon whom Zalmi batting was depending so heavily failed to live up to the expectations and massive Karachi crowd and was back in the pavilion after scoring just 1 run. Soon Hafeez joined him as Patel also removed him cheaply. Zalmi must blame themselves for highly irresponsible batting as they were simply gifting away wickets on plate.
Zalmi batsmen looked in a hurry to join teammates in the dressing room and wickets were falling at regular intervals.
Jordan (36) and Liam Dawson (33) and late 14-ball 28 runs cameo from Wahab helped Zalmi to post somehow a respectable total that was evidently not enough to defend, however, on a placid and batting friendly track.
Leg-spinner Shahdab was the most successful United bowler with three wickets for 25 including Sammy’s who failed to fire on the big occasion. Part-timer Hussian Talat also chipped in with 2 for 18 and Patel finished 2 for 25.