Lahore Qalandars’ players and team officials celebrate with the Trophy. AFP
Skipper Shaheen Shah Afridi put up an excellent all-round performance as Lahore Qalandars pulled up a thrilling one-run victory against Multan Sultans in the final of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) on Saturday. With the victory, Qalandars became the first team to defend the PSL title. Shaheen scored a blitzkrieg 15-ball 44 and picked up four wickets in Qalandars’ romp over Sultans.
Qalandars posted a huge total of 200 runs and restricted Sultans to 199/8 to claim the title. Qalandars got off to decent start but wobbled in the middle overs as they lost quite a few wickets in quick succession. But Shaheen scored a quick-fire 44 runs to give their bowlers enough runs to defend. Sultans kept the chase alive with help of a brilliant display of batting by Rilee Rossouw and Kushdil Shah but ran out of steam and fell short of the target by one run.
Meanwhile, Najam Sethi, Chair of the Pakistan Cricket Board, has expressed his gratitude towards all the stakeholders for turning HBL PSL 8 into a massive successive. The event had commenced in Multan with a glittering ceremony on Feb. 13. Over 34 days, Multan staged five matches, Karachi and Lahore nine matches each and Rawalpindi 11 matches. On March 8, 10, 11, the PCB, alongside the HBL PSL 8 matches, also organised three women’s league exhibition matches in Rawalpindi, which were also participated by 10 foreign players from seven countries.
The final of the 34-match tournament was played on Saturday, at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore. Addressing a news conference ahead of Lahore Qalandars-Multan Sultans final, Sethi said: “I want to thank all the stakeholders, including federal, provincial governments and law enforcement institutions for their unwavering support and making the HBL PSL 8 a success. “The way all the arms of the state worked together and provided their help and support to the PCB underscores how this tournament is now considered as a national asset. “I also want to thank the foreign players for their participation in the tournament.
The foreign players want to come and play in the league as it provides them quality cricket and has helped in their development. Many foreign cricketers who have played here have gone on to graduate to the top-level, because of which the HBL PSL has emerged into as a global brand. “All the women players who were here for the women exhibition matches in Rawalpindi have expressed their desire to come back and play in Pakistan, which is a great advert for our country.
“I also want to congratulate my team for the smooth delivery of the event. It is no mean task to flawlessly deliver logistical and operational support to the tournament of such a magnitude at four venues. “We were managing two production teams and many a time the turnaround time was very tight, but their undying spirit and resolve made sure that we never faced any obstacles. “Despite all the logistical challenges, we were able to conduct a high-class opening ceremony in Multan. Never before has an opening ceremony being delivered of such great quality. “When I took over the affairs, no preparation had been made for the opening ceremony.
I personally looked into the affairs and made sure that we continue to build the brand of the HBL PSL through sheer hard work and dedication. “It took us two months from planning till execution to deliver the HBL PSL, and I have no qualms in claiming that we can deliver the HBL PSL in any part of the world, because of the knowledge and expertise we possess. “The HBL PSL would not have been this successful without the love and support that it has received from the fans.
We had turnout of 80 per cent on average and at times, it went to 95 per cent. “It is their support that has turned the HBL PSL into a global brand. The new levels of interest and following has seen record ticket sales, record crowd turnout and record digital and TV ratings, which has not happened before.”