By Muhammad Raza Haidery
The Pakistan Super League 2018 finally came to an end and Islamabad United won their second title in three years. The match was one-sided for most of the time as the winners of 2016 edition dominated with the ball but they were all over the place with the bat. This was one of the most riveting Twenty20 matches in recent time.
The grand finale in Karachi was being dubbed as the “Kamran Akmal vs Luke Ronchi Show” but it never happened as the Pakistani batsman, who batted brilliantly throughout this year’s edition, was dismissed cheaply. Moreover, he also took a needless review which went in favor of the United team.
Liam Dawson and Chris Jordan were back in the pavilion after scoring 30s and the middle order could not contribute much to the scorecard as skipper Darren Sammy, Saad Nasim, Umaid Asif and Hassan Ali failed to even score in double figures.
Just when it looked like the title is slipping away from the defending champions, Wahab Riaz played a late cameo which would give them something to defend. His 28-run knock, which included four boundaries and a maximum, took the side to 148/9.
Everyone knew that it was going to be a riveting run chase as batting second in a final – whether it is a domestic or international competition – is never an easy. Pressure gets to you and that’s what happened with Islamabad United and it nearly cost them the championship.
Chasing 149 to win PSL 3, Luke Ronchi and Sahibzada Farhan went all guns blazing and kept hitting the Zalmi bowlers to all parts of the ground but the situation changed dramatically as the Kiwi batsman was dismissed after scoring his half century.
We have to credit Darren Sammy. He always kept reminding his side that they can still do this and his players were clearly motivated by him. They kept piling pressure on the batsmen and troubled them by varying their line and length.
Like Zalmi, the middle order of Islamabad also collapsed as Farhan watched the wickets fall from the other end. The amazing crowd also cheered every single run, boundary and wicket in the match.
Peshawar clawed their way back in by dismissing him and Islamabad were losing its grip with the difference between the runs required and the number of balls coming closer.
Then the most memorable moment of the match happened as the drop catch by Kamran Akmal and a six-run overthrow by one of the Zalmi fielders brought Islamabad closer to glory. Hassan Ali came on to bowl and was hit for three consecutive sixes in the over.
Faheem Ashraf brought them home by hitting the ball into the stands of Wahab Riaz’s bowling.
Throughout history we have seen of the greatest cricket matches. It was being said that PSL 2018 would live up to its expectations, which it did. The crowd was amazing and the atmosphere made it even better. Let’s hope we get to see many such riveting encounters in the future.