By Rizwan Ali, AP
LAHORE, Pakistan — Former West Indies captain Darren Sammy led Peshawar Zalmi to the Pakistan Super League Twenty20 title with a 58-run victory against Quetta Gladiators in a trouble-free final on Sunday.
Extraordinary security measures did not stop thousands of cricket-starved Pakistani fans from going to the Gaddafi Stadium and watching Quetta being bowled out for only 90 in 16.3 overs.
Sammy’s knock of 28 off 11 balls had earlier lifted Peshawar’s total to 148-6 after he lost the toss and his team was put in to bat.
“I felt tonight I brought a lot of smiles in Lahore and Peshawar,” Sammy said. “I am glad I came to experience the atmosphere here.”
Sammy, who twice led the West Indies to the World Twenty20 title, was among nine foreign cricketers who agreed to travel to eastern city of Lahore early Sunday as stringent security measures were put in place around the 25,000-capacity stadium.
Pakistan has not hosted a major test-playing nation since 2009 when an attack on a Sri Lanka team bus — also in Lahore — killed seven policemen and injured several Sri Lanka players.
Since the attack in 2009, only Zimbabwe has visited Pakistan for a short limited-overs series in 2015.
Sammy, his fellow West Indian Marlon Samuels and England’s Chris Jordan were presented with Pakistani army caps as they walked around the stadium before the toss. Sammy obliged some of his fans, standing close to the fence and taking photos with them. He even danced on the stage with Peshawar team-mate Kamran Akmal and got a huge round of applause from capacity crowd.
PSL chairman Najam Sethi, who is also chairman of the PCB’s executive committee, said on Sunday that he looked at the PSL final as the opening for Pakistan to bring back international cricket.
He said that the PCB was in talks with the cricket boards of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh to tour Pakistan later this year.
Security officials from cricket boards — including Australia, Sri Lanka, England and Bangladesh — and the International Cricket Council were also present at the stadium to see exhaustive security measures put in place.