Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 June 2019

PSL 2019: Best moments from UAE leg as PCB mulls permanent move to Pakistan

This may or may not have been the last Emirates-based PSL. But if it was, the country did its best to sign off in style

A fan takes a selfie during the match between Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
A fan takes a selfie during the match between Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National

If the Pakistan Cricket Board has its wish, we have seen the last of the Pakistan Super League in the UAE.

Imran Khan, the Prime Minister, and Ehsan Mani, the PCB chairman, are both firm in their desire for the whole tournament to be staged at home next year.

Whether that comes to pass remains to be seen. Even now they are unable to play the tournament in as many as two separate centres in Pakistan, as had been originally scheduled.

Late logistical changes, brought about because of the rising tensions with India, have seen all the matches that had been planned for Lahore for the remainder of this event being switched to Karachi instead.

As such, it feels a little far-fetched at present to think the event can move back home en masse within a year, and still retain the same pulling power for overseas players.

If this was the last UAE-based PSL, though, the country did its best to sign off in style.

Pitbull terrible

Junoon, Bony M and Pitbull always did seem like an unlikely match on the bill for the opening ceremony for the tournament.

As it was, perhaps the biggest name on the card did not make it, anyway.

“Unfortunately, what has happened was,” Pitbull said, in a tinny social media video, explaining his absence, “it was such a long flight.

“They took the plane for a test flight, and when they landed, pieces of the engine had come apart."

No matter. Pitbull would not have been as good as the cricket, anyway.

Lahore Qalandars' David Wiese has made a name for himself in Season 4 of the Pakistan Super League. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Lahore Qalandars' David Wiese has made a name for himself in Season 4 of the Pakistan Super League. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Last-ball six: I

It says a lot about the extraordinary gifts of AB de Villiers that someone else can hit the last ball of the match for six to win a thriller, yet everyone still goes home talking about something he did.

Lahore Qalandars needed three to win off the 240th ball of the match against Multan Sultans. David Wiese promptly belted the delivery from Daniel Christian into the main stand at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

And yet all anyone wanted to talk about was the astonishing reverse-ramp six by De Villiers earlier in the day.

Sarfraz Ahmed was Quetta Gladiators' hero against Lahore Qalandars at Sharjah Cricket Stadium last month. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Sarfraz Ahmed was Quetta Gladiators' hero against Lahore Qalandars at Sharjah Cricket Stadium last month. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Last-ball six: II

Sharjah made its name in cricket largely on the back of Javed Miandad’s final-delivery six off Chetan Sharma for Pakistan to beat India back in 1986.

The stadium waited 33 years for the same thing to recur – then it happened twice in the space of two nights.

Wiese had barely come down from the thrill of his heroics a day earlier, when Sarfraz Ahmed did exactly the same thing to him to win the game for Quetta Gladiators against Lahore Qalandars.

PSL cricket: the great leveller.

Last-ball four

Escaping the English winter to celebrate a birthday in Dubai is a decent start. To then hit a boundary off the last ball in front of thousands of fans, while playing for the most popular side in the PSL, is just flash.

Liam Dawson celebrated turning 29 by guiding Peshawar Zalmi home in a classic against Islamabad United at the Dubai International Stadium.

“It might not come off another night, but thankfully it did this time,” Dawson said, after his straight drive to the rope off Mohammed Sami.

Pakistani fast bowler Haris Rauf was impressive for Lahore Qalandars this season. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Pakistani fast bowler Haris Rauf was impressive for Lahore Qalandars this season. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Rauf is on fire

Franchise leagues have the happy knack of making overnight stars. This PSL will be remembered for the arrival of Haris Rauf.

Where the street-cricketer-turned-Lahore Qalandars fast-bowling sensation goes from here remains to be seen. Pakistan’s squad for the Australia series? Then on to the World Cup? It is possible.

If he does make it to the top, then those in Dubai who saw his blistering, match-winning spell to beat Karachi Kings will be able to say they were there when he first sparkled.

Show goes on

When it comes to organising anything, the Pakistan Cricket Board makes regular users of lastminute.com seem like fastidious advance planners.

As such, when it is hit with 11th-hour glitches, it is generally able to cope with a minimum of fuss.

Like when IMG Reliance, the Indian broadcasters, pulled out of covering the PSL in response to the attacks in Kashmir.

Somehow, the show went on seamlessly, as the replacement TV production company did not miss a beat.

Nepal leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane simply loves playing cricket whatever the level might be. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Nepal leg-spinner Sandeep Lamichhane simply loves playing cricket whatever the level might be. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Lamichhane’s famous five

A week before the start of the PSL, Sandeep Lamichhane had been playing for Nepal against UAE on the ICC Academy oval on the other side of Dubai Sports City, with an intermittent internet broadcast relaying coverage.

After a brief jaunt to Australia for the business stage of the Big Bash League, he returned to Dubai and summarily dismissed three of the PSL’s leading run-scorers, then Babar Azam and Colin Munro – the world’s two top-ranked T20 international batsmen – in the space of consecutive nights.

Capital gains

Abu Dhabi had to wait until the fourth season of PSL was nearly over before getting its chance to stage matches. It was well worth the wait.

Shane Watson, after scoring a match-winning 91 not out, said it had been the best wicket to bat on in the tournament. The crowd was solid, given it had the two worst days for double-headers – Monday and Tuesday. Plus it looked gorgeous on the drone footage.

If PSL does come back to the UAE in future, matches in the capital should be a must.

Majestic Misbah

Maybe it is no surprise Misbah-ul-Haq turned on the style in Abu Dhabi. He does have so many great memories at the venue from his glorious international career, after all.

But the way he won the game for Peshawar against Lahore on the UAE’s last night of PSL competition, was another addition to his Zayed Cricket Stadium catalogue.

Running a three to level the scores in the last over of the match, not far shy of his 45th birthday, was a lesson for all those young aspirants watching.

Updated: March 7, 2019 08:51 AM

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