After a spectacular display of fireworks lit up the start of the final of the inaugural Pakistan Super League in Dubai, Dwayne Smith produced the cricketing equivalent of it, firing Islamabad United to the title. He struck 73 off 51 balls, 52 of them through boundaries. Smith’s effort came after Quetta Gladiators had put up a challenging 174 with fluent half-centuries from Ahmed Shehzad and Kumar Sangakkara. Islamabad captain Misbah-ul-Haq, who had termed the PSL almost like a “World Cup” at the toss, sealed the victory with a flick past midwicket and sparked off wild celebrations.
Smith, who had struggled to get the ball off the square during his 37-ball 19 in the third qualifier against Peshawar Zalmi, got into his shot-making stride right away on Tuesday night, cracking fours off his second and third balls. He then followed it up with a brace of fours in the next over, off spinner Nathan McCullum, who was bowling for the first time in the tournament. Nathan managed to bowl PSL’s only centurion Sharjeel Khan, who had been added to Pakistan’s World T20 and Asia Cup squads, for only 12, but Smith continued his slap-happy strokeplay and raised a fifty off 32 balls.
Smith was dismissed when he sent a top-edge to Kevin Pietersen to backward point in the 16th over, but Brad Haddin, whose knock was a more measured one, remained unbeaten on 61 off 39 balls, his third fifty of the tournament. Islamabad ultimately won emphatically with six wickets and eight balls to spare.
They had begun on a positive note as well with fast bowler Mohammad Irfan striking in the first over to dismiss opener Bismillah Khan for a duck. Pietersen, playing his third T20 final this season after the Ram Slam and Big Bash League, promised much before holing out to deep square leg for 18; Asif Ali completing an excellent catch. Sangakkara and Shehzad then married power and timing in an 87-run partnership, highlighted by Sangakkara’s extra-cover drive for six off Mohammad Sami, for the third wicket. The pair ensured that Quetta motored past 100 by the 13th over.
Sangakkara, however, was caught by Imran Khalid at long-on off Russell for 55, in the 15th over. Sangakkara’s exit set in motion a flurry of wickets as Quetta lost four wickets in four overs at the death. Anwar Ali swung wildly and connected a six before he became Russell’s third victim. It meant that Russell went past Wahab Riaz to finish as the tournament’s leading wicket-taker with 16 scalps. Grant Elliott lifted the last ball of the innings for a six but Quetta’s joy was short-lived.