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HBL PSL: Recap of four preceding seasons

HBL PSL: Recap of four preceding seasons

The excitement is building up to a crescendo for arguably the most significant edition of HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) that is set to be played in Pakistan from 20 February to 22 March 2020.

Let's take a recap of all the prior seasons and relive some memorable events. The league was born in 2016 and quickly rose to prominence amidst an array of glitzy T20 leagues around the world.

The first edition comprised five teams and all fixtures were held in the UAE. Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) efforts and steadily improving security situation in Pakistan made it possible to host the final of the second edition of PSL between Zalmi and Gladiators at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore — which proved to be a watershed moment for cricket's resumption in Pakistan.

Thereafter, more forward strides were made in the 2018 season as two major cities, Lahore and Karachi, hosted last three knockout games of the tournament and, as expected, jam-packed crowds thronged stadiums — a testament to league's growing popularity among the masses. 

Multan Sultans were added to the mix which helped draw new audiences and made the tournament more competitive.

In 2019, eight games were held in Pakistan. National Stadium, Karachi hosted all matches and consistent performers, Quetta Gladiators, finally won the coveted HBL PSL trophy, and deservingly so.

HBL PSL 2016: Zalmi-Gladiators cat and mouse affair

Islamabad United clinched the prized HBL PSL trophy in the first edition by outsmarting Quetta Gladiators in the epic finale. Dwayne Smith starred in Islamabad's historic win and was adjudicated player of the match for his fiery 73-run-knock. 

Dwayne lit up the picturesque Dubai Cricket Stadium by slamming seven fours and four maximums and inflicted carnage on Quetta. The West Indian batsman helped chase down 175 in the penultimate over.

The play-off between Zalmi and Gladiators proved to be a riveting cat-and-mouse affair and was decided on the very last ball of the innings, effectively proving to be a cracker of a game as Quetta edged past their frenemies.

Sharjeel Khan unleashed coruscating strokeplay by thumping the first century of the PSL in its inaugural edition. The southpaw blazed to 117 and played a pivotal role in Islamabad's journey to the title victory. 

Moreover, Andre Russell ended the tournament with the most number of wickets (16) and deck-hitting enforcer Wahab Riaz snapped up 15 scalps. The third place in the table was booked by off-spinner Mohammad Nawaz, who chipped away with 13 wickets.

PSL 2017: Darren Sammy wins hearts

The final in Lahore brought the entire city on a standstill. Peshwar Zalmi's much-loved captain Darren Sammy became crowd's favourite when he overcame his fears and made the trip to Lahore. Quetta Gladiators once again were deprived of getting their hands on the glittery Swarovski trophy.

Zalmi contributed in a gripping contest in the play-off against Gladiators in Sharjah. Zalmi lost by the faintest of margins, tantalisingly close to the victory as they lost by a run while chasing 201.

However, Daren Sammy marshalled his troops brilliantly, recovered after the jolt and inspired his side to win the second play-off which paved their way to their maiden PSL victory. Zalmi gathered 148/6 in their full quota of overs which proved a herculean total for Quetta as they folded on 90 runs in the final.

Sammy won the player of the match award for his quickfire 28 run knock and for his charismatic leadership. The belligerent opening batsman from Zalmi, Kamran Akmal, won the player of the tournament accolade. 

Kamran amassed 353 runs in eleven matches and scored a fabulous century against Karachi Kings in the play-off coupled with twelve dismissals in his wicket-keeping duties that made his case strong for winning the award.

Sohail Khan - represented Karachi Kings - was on top of his game and darted toe-crushing yorkers at will. His slower ones befuddled the batsmen and he ended up picking 16 wickets in the second season. 

Wahab Riaz continued his impressive bowling performances in the second edition as well and snared 15 players with his hostile bowling. Moreover, the 2017 PSL season witnessed a total of 258 sixes knocked out of the park in 24 games.

HBL PSL 2018: United win again

The action returned to Karachi as the city of lights hosted the all-important final. Islamabad United won their second PSL title by defeating Peshwar Zalmi by three wickets. Zalmi put 148/9 on the board which didn't prove enough as United raced to the target in 16.5 overs.

The New Zealand batsman Luke Ronchi enjoyed a run spree in 2018 edition and was declared player of the tournament for his scintillating batting performances that included a half-century in the final encounter. 

Ronchi piled up 435 runs in 11 matches at an astounding strike rate of 182, averaged 43.50 and he was simply unstoppable, proving to be the most important cog in United's wheels.

Kamran showed his liking to the home league once again and was right behind Ronchi in the runs column. He made 425 runs in 13 games which included a stupendous century against Lahore Qalandars in Sharjah.

Faheem Ashraf bowled one economical spell after another and won the bowler of the tournament, finishing the season with 18 wickets. None other than Wahab Riaz occupied the second spot in the bowling charts and took 18 wickets - but in more number of matches and with a slightly lesser average than Faheem.

HBL PSL 2019: Quetta conquer the insurmountable

Greater inroads were made in bringing PSL back to Pakistan. Eight matches were staged in Karachi. Gladiators finally managed to get over the line. They won the HBL PSL final against familiar opponent Peshawar Zalmi by eight wickets.

Zalmi scrapped their way to 138 in 20 overs and the young pace sensation from Quetta, Mohammad Hasnain, alongside the seasoned campaigner Dwayne Bravo took five wickets in total and denied Zalmi from teeing off in the death overs.

When Quetta came to bat, Ahmed Shehzad and South African Rilee Rossouw knit a match-winning 73-run stand. Ahmed scored a blistering half-century while Rossouw chipped in with 39 runs.

Shane Watson hardly put a foot wrong in PSL 4 as he scored a truckload of runs (430 in 12 matches) at a staggering average of 43 and strike rate of 143.81. He scored four half-centuries to cement the top berth in the batting charts.

Zalmi's stalwart Kamran Akmal plundered 357 runs in 13 appearances that included three fifties. Cameron Delport was the third-highest scorer of the season with 355 runs.

Hasan Ali showed his dexterity like no one else and went smartly through his bag of tricks. The former number one ranked bowler's aura brought 25 wickets in 13 matches in PSL 4.

Faheem followed him up with 21 while veteran speedster Wahab was in the top bowlers' list once again as he ripped through the stumps on 17 occasions

And now the time is ripe for conducting the entire PSL in Pakistan. HBL PSL V is just a few days away and promises to be another fascinating season where we can expect records to tumble. 

Reigning champions Gladiators will meet United in the tournament opener in Karachi.

Many T20 mavericks including Dayle Steyn, who will be returning to Pakistan shores after a 12-year-hiatus, Jason Roy and Chris Lynn can't wait to make a mark on the grandest stage.