Many had feared that an aging Peshawar Zalmi team might end with the wooden spoon in PSL 2. But instead the experience of Darren Sammy and Shahid Afridi turned out to be an asset for the franchise as it went all the way, winning the PSL crown in style in front of a packed Gaddafi Stadium on Sunday night.
For Quetta Gladiators it was second time unlucky as Peshawar Zalmi exploited the gaping holes in their armour to win the coveted crown.
Zalmi showed no mercy to the depleted Gladiators, who were without some of their biggest stars.
Mohammad Asghar, the 18-year-old left-arm spinner from Balochistan’s Killa Abdullah, dealt a killer blow to Quetta’s innings as they chased a victory target of 149 with stunning figures of 3-16 in four overs. He was ably supported by Wahab Riaz (2-13) and Hassan Ali (2-13) as Zalmi skittled Gladiators for 90 in 16.3 overs to win the one-sided final by 58 runs.
The Gladiators were almost at par with Zalmi in the bowling department but the loss of three of their leading batsmen – Kevin Pietersen, Luke Wright and Rilee Roussow – turned out to be the decisive factor in the final outcome of PSL’s second season.
The batting trio together with Tymal Mills were regulars for Gladiators but withdrew from the final because of security fears. Quetta did rope in new foreign recruits in Bangladesh’s Anamul Haque, South Africa’s Morne van Wyk, Zimbabwe’s Sean Ervine and West Indies’ Rayad Emrit but it was far from a fair bargain.
That said you cannot take the credit away from Zalmi, who took the field without their own big star – Shahid Afridi. Nursing a hand injury that he suffered during Friday night’s playoff against Karachi Kings, Afridi watched from the dugout as skipper Darren Sammy commanded his troops with the sort of competence that you would expect from a two-time world title-winning captain.
Sammy lifted his team from a difficult situation with a brisk 28 and then made all the right bowling changes to easily defend a seemingly modest 148.
Quetta never really recovered from a disastrous start as they lost their top three batsmane Morne van Wyk (1), Ahmed Shehzad (1) and Anamul Haque (3) with just 13 on the board. Captain Sarfraz Ahmed promoted himself to number four and briefly raised his team’s hopes with an 11-ball 22 that was punctuated by five fours. But he fell to the guile of Mohammad Hafeez leaving Quetta in trouble. Sean Ervine scored a 19-ball 24 before getting dismissed by Asghar. Anwar Ali made 20 off 24 balls.
This is the second time that Quetta have lost in the PSL final. Last year they succumbed to Islamabad United in the inaugural edition.
Earlier, Peshawar were off to a flying start after being put into bat by Sarfraz as Kamran Akmal and Dawid Malan smashed a series of boundaries to take their side to 28-0 in two overs bowled by Zulfiqar Babar and Anwar Ali.
But on a slow wicket which offered plenty of grip to the spinners, Quetta’s bowlers managed to put on the brakes on Peshawar’s innings with tight bowling.
Trinidadian Rayad Emrit together with the spin trio of Nawaz, Zulfiqar and Hasan tied down the Peshawar batsmen with some excellent bowling. From 42-0 in 4.3 overs, Peshawar could just crawl to 112-6 in 16.4 overs as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals.
Malan (17), Mohammad Hafeez (12), Marlon Samuels (19) and Iftikhar Ahmed (14) all got starts but neither of them was able to convert it into a big score.
It was finally Darren Sammy who hit a whirlwind cameo of 28* off just 11 balls with three sixes to take Peshawar to a decent-looking total of 148.
Kamran, who hit a scintillating century in the previous game of the PSL in Dubai on Friday night, top scored with 40 off 32 balls with six fours and a six. He was trapped LBW by Hasan Khan, the wiry 18-year-old left-arm spinner from Karacho who is counted among the finds of the second PSL season.
From amongst the new overseas inductees for Quetta, Emrit was the only one to make his presence felt with figures of 3-31. He took the key wickets of Malan, Hafeez and Iftikhar. The major damage to the Peshawar innings was done by the spin trio of Nawaz, Zulfiqar and Hasan (2-34). Nawaz finished with excellent figures of 1-15 from his four overs.