The final today will bookend what was another exciting edition of the PSL. The 2017 season had many moments that will long live in the memory. Here’s a look at some of those:
Lahore Qalandars boasted a strong batting line up and were led by a captain whose advice to his team was to always take the most aggressive approach. The approach saw a distinctively new identity, but it was also binary as it either meant boom or bust. And bust came in the form of the team collapsing for the lowest ever PSL total of a mere 59 runs.
The boom and bust of the Lahore Qalandars went both ways, and the boom came when they set Quetta Gladiators a target of 201. They came close to defending that total when Quetta were left needing 70 runs in 30 balls. Cometh the hour cometh the man however. Kevin Pietersen, who prior to this game scored two consecutive ducks, decided to come back in form and he did it in style scoring 39 runs in 9 balls during which he scored 6 maximums. Quetta took 21 runs of a Narine over & 26 runs of an Irfan Jr. over so run out winners with 7 balls to spare.
The PSL format means that the places aren’t decided till the last game of each side and Zalmi entered this game knowing that a win would take them to the top two spots, ensuring they would have two chances in the playoffs. In a low scoring game against Quetta Gladiators, it was Shahid Afridi who decided to be the hero when he played a typical Afridi knock and helped Peshawar Zalmi get across the line. And when they got there, he made it all the more special by bringing out the trademark starman celebration.
Kumar Sangakkarra has retired from international cricket, but he does not shy away from giving his 100%. While defending a low total against defending champions Islamabad United, Sanga knew that he would have to take every half chance which came his way and he did not disappoint when he held an absolute stunner to get rid of Dwayne Smith & set the chain of events which saw his team convincingly defend their meagre total and make it to the second qualifier.
Needing to defend 18 runs in the final over against Shahid Afridi, it was youngster Usama Mir who put his hand up and delivered the win. Shahid Afridi till that point was striking the ball well and it seemed odd that Karachi Kings decided to persist with a spinner for the final over and that too an emerging player. But Usama Mir did not disappoint and he bowled well to ensure that his side came up tops.
Peshawar Zalmi needed to score 7 runs in their final over to overhaul a target of 200 and qualify for the final in Lahore. Having dominated the chase up till that point, Zalmi seemed certain to win. But cricket is a funny game, after conceding 5 runs in the first 3 balls, Mohammad Nawaz - one of the original PSL’s breakout stars - bowled really well to defend 2 runs and ensure that Quetta are playing their second final in as many seasons.
One of the things which most fans will remember is the “Cool & Calm” celebration of Rumman Raees, Raees believed that there is no point to celebrate too much since the volatility of the T20 format could mean you get smashed for a 6 of the next ball and you end up looking like a fool. But when Raees did take out this celebration, Imad Wasim did not look at it this way and ended up losing his own cool.
Whatever it might have been, that seemed to have inspired Imad Wasim to bowl one of his best spells in the PSL and in the end when Amir took the wicket of Raees to wrap up the win against defending champions Islamabad United, it was Amir who had his own take on the Raees celebration.
T20 is a very volatile format and the winner is usually the one who manages to close the game better or win the crucial moments of the game. When Islamabad United played Quetta Gladiators in what was a rematch of last year’s final, it was Quetta this time who dominated the game and they did so for 38 overs of the 40 games. But it was in the last 12 balls where the match was decided and when Islamabad United won. Rumman Raees & Mohammad Sami did brilliantly well to defend just seven runs as they kept varying their lines & lengths. The pressure told on the Quetta batsman who choked under it and in the end it was Islamabad United who prevailed in one of the most thrilling games of the PSL.
The teams from the two big cities met in a must-win match at the end of the tournament, adding all sorts of relevance to what was already the most followed game of the tournament. Given the rivalry between these two cities it was no surprise that both sides fought right till the end. With the last two balls to come Karachi Kings needed 10 runs to keep their playoff hopes alive. Up stepped Pollard who deposited the last two balls of the game for sixes, keeping Karachi Kings alive in the tournament and getting the bragging rights over their rivals Lahore.
Lahore Qalandars might have finished bottom of the table for the second year running, but they definitely can say that they had one of the most memorable moments of the PSL. Elliot, a World Cup finalist with New Zealand saw out a tense chase when he calmly deposited Sami for a 6 and gave Qalandars a double over defending champions Islamabad United. He then went on to do the cricket version of the mic drop, something which spread like wildfire on social media and something by which the PSL 2 will be fondly remembered.
Of course there is one more memorable moment yet to come. The final in Lahore will be the first ever PSL game to be played in Pakistan and as such will be such an endearing moment for a nation which has gone through a lot.