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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 October 2018

PSL moves to Lahore for Quetta v Peshawar final as security remains the focal point

The group and play-off stages took place here in the UAE, but as the final moves to Lahore, concerns surrounding security remain a key issue.
Kamran Akmal's century guided Peshawar Zalmi to the Pakistan Super League final. Courtesy PSL/ PCB
Kamran Akmal's century guided Peshawar Zalmi to the Pakistan Super League final. Courtesy PSL/ PCB

DUBAI // So that’s that from the UAE, then. Dubai and Sharjah have done their jobs. Over to the Qaddafi Stadium in Lahore, and fingers crossed Sunday’s Pakistan Super League final of 2017 is memorable solely for cricket.

Peshawar Zalmi, the table-toppers in the league phase, will fly on Saturday, having made light work of beating Karachi Kings at a packed Dubai International Stadium on Friday night.

Quetta flew back promptly after their win in the first qualifying playoff on Tuesday night over the side they will now face in final.

Which imported personnel ends up their with each of the sides remains to be seen. The important bit is that the bill for the only show in town in Lahore on Sunday will read: Quetta v Peshawar.

For the entirety of this tournament, the cricket itself has felt like a joyous distraction. The warm up act to The Big Decision. To travel or not to travel.

To take the risk, and be welcomed as a hero. Or to feel that playing a game of cricket might not be all that important in the grand scheme.

Even during the final knockout game, people were distracted. Midway through the Peshawar innings, the PSL chairman Najam Sethi tweeted. Not about the live action, but pleading for understanding over the final.

“13500 troopers were deployed in London to secure the Olympics in 2012 from terrorism,” Sethi wrote. “Please bear with our security arrangements for PSL final.”

For a major tournament, which has attracted thousands through the gates during its exile in the UAE over the past month, the fact there is still so much unknown feels remarkable.

The crew of Sunset and Vine, the TV production company providing the host broadcast service from Dubai and Sharjah, opted out early in the week from travelling to Lahore.

And yet they will remain in Dubai on the off chance the final is still switched here from Pakistan, even at this late stage.

Weeks ahead of the competition, the Pakistan Cricket Board paid to reserve the Dubai International Stadium for March 5. It would be ready to go, if needs be.

It put on a great show on its last appearance at this season’s PSL. This final knockout match felt like a final.

Four hours before the 8pm start, the rudimentary ticket booths a few hundred metres away from the stadium in Dubai Sports City were swamped.

Unusually for a match in this competition, the vast majority of seats were filled by the time Mohammed Amir sent down the first ball.

Kamran Akmal drove it for four, and neither he nor Peshawar really looked back from there.

He would eventually reach a hundred from 60 balls, becoming the second PSL centurion after Sharjeel Khan made one in this corresponding match last season for the eventual champions Islamabad United.

Kieron Pollard and Chris Gayle battled against the improbable, blazing seven sixes between them for Karachi, but the run chase fell comfortably short.

At the fourth attempt in the past two seasons, Peshawar had won a playoff, and they - along with the tournament itself - were on their way home.

pradley@thenational.ae

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