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KARACHI: Islamabad United (IU) yet again rolled out as the champion of Pakistan Super League (PSL) on Sunday with the help of a half century by Luke Ronchi, defeating Peshawar Zalmi by three wickets at Karachi’s National Stadium on Sunday.
The historic match, which saw the return of international stars to National Stadium after a mournful gap of nine years, ended up being relatively one-sided, as the champions of first edition were crowned champions again.
IU, chasing 149 reached the target in 16.2 overs, losing seven wickets as their opener Ronchi smashed 52 runs off 26 balls, hitting four boundaries and five sixes, and establishing a 96-run opening partnership with Sahibzada Farhan, who scored 44 off 33 balls. Ronchi is also the top scorer of the tournament.
Islamabad lost five quick wickets but then Asif Ali came in action to finish off the match after being dropped on just one run by Kamran Akmal. Ali struck three straight sixes to get within touching distance of the target, leaving three runs to win, which were scored on the second ball of the 17th over.
Earlier, after opting to bat first, Peshawar Zalmi were able to post 148-9 in their allotted 20 over after being three down with 38 on the board.
Chris Jordan then came in to hold the fall of wickets and scored 36 runs before he was dismissed after facing 26 balls and hitting one four and three sixes. Zalmi soon lost five quick wickets coming down from 101-4 to 121-9, while Liam Dawson helped Zalmi to put up a decent total and was dismissed after scoring 33 off 30 balls. In the end Wahab Riaz came in to the rescue and added 28 runs off 14 balls hitting four fours and a six.
Shadab Khan took three wickets for 25 runs in his four overs for Islamabad with Hussain Talat and Samit Patel each taking two wickets for 18 and 26 runs. Muhammad Sami and Faheem Ashraf took one wicket each for 31 and 32 runs.
The spectators were able to enter the stadium after waiting endlessly in long queues and four checkpoints but still seemed excited to be part of the historical match.
“We had to walk for 500 meters to reach the first checkpoint scanners where there was a long queue for males and a shorter for female but I having my family with me had to stand in different queues which created lot of hurdle for us,” a spectator remarked.
“We passed that then got in a shuttle, then had to go through more walkthrough scanners and physical scanning, then another at the gate entrance and then the last one at the enclosure entrance. We were fed up by the time we reach our seats, but once the match started… we felt lucky to be part of this match,” he stated.
The spectator also said that his children, a girl and two teenage boys, witnessed their first match ever in a stadium and they were really happy to be there. “We hope to see more matches coming in Karachi so that we can come and enjoy the match,” he added.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Sindh Governor Muhammad Zubair, Bilawal Bhutto, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor were present at the match along with PCB Chairman Najam Sethi and Security Consultant Reg Dickason were also present. The match ended with three minutes of incessant fireworks.
Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi qualified for the final after playoff matches at the Lahore’s Gaddafi stadium earlier this week and both teams reached Karachi under the tautened security to play the PSL 3 final.
Despite the soaring temperature, cricket fans had started reaching the stadium from the afternoon despite the match had to be started at 8 o’clock. The stadium was fully packed with the crowd wearing colorful T-shirts of Karachi, Islamabad and Peshawar cricket teams. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had earlier announced that the match will begin at 8pm and the gates will close at 5pm, however, the authorities later protracted the time till 7pm.
Strict security measures were taken by the government and the law enforcement agencies for the day of the final cricket match between the Islamabad United and Peshawar Zalmi. The routes leading to the National Stadium, Karachi were witnessed of ‘virtual curfew’ as what the security forces had taken strict security measures by sealing all the connecting routes by erecting barricades in order to pass the day of the final cricket match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) peacefully.
The roads were closed from Millennium Mall to Dalmia, New town to Stadium, Essa Nagri to Stadium, Karsaz to stadium and from Hassan square to Stadium road. The traffic was diverted from given alternate routes. However, more than 200 buses were providing transport services to the attendees from the five designated parking points to the stadium. Spectators having CNICs and PSL tickets were only allowed to enter the venue only after multiple security checks. Mobile toilets were also installed at parking zones. Besides aerial surveillance, the movement outside and inside the stadium was being monitored through 80 CCTV cameras.
Popular singers including Ali Zafar, Shehzad Roy, Aima Baig, Farhan Saeed and evergreen pop band Strings set the stage on fire with their performance, enthralling the crowd.
Zalmi cricketers Darren Sammy and Hassan Ali also danced along as music band Strings perform onstage during the closing ceremony of the PSL. The crowd cheered along during musical performances at the closing ceremony.
Big screens for the live match were also installed at various spots in the city including numerous cinemas. Citizens of Karachi had also made arrangements for fireworks for the victory of their favorite teams at the end of the match.
The strict security measures were taken across the city by the law enforcers as the police and Rangers were seen busy in patrolling and conducting snap checking in the entire city ahead of the security measures for the PSL final.
Police officials coined this day a day of success for law enforcement agencies. “It was a joint effort of all including police and Rangers. Basically, today (Sunday) is game day for fans, but preparations have been going on for many days,” Karachi’s Zone East Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Zulfiqar Larik told media, “We will try for even better arrangements for the West Indies series in Karachi.”