Quetta Gladiators 139 for 2 (Shehzad 58*, Rossouw 39*, Wahab 1-19) beat Peshawar Zalmi 138 for 8 (Amin 38, Hasnain 3-30, Bravo 2-24) by 8 wickets
The closing ceremony, understandably, was stripped to bare bones, shorn of all the dances that adorned the opening ceremony as a mark of respect for the victims of the terror attack in Christchurch last week.
Unfortunately, the un-embellished nature of the festivities extended to the cricket itself, throwing up a final largely devoid of the usual drama, theatre, and excitement that enlivened so many games across the PSL this season. But that did not detract from Quetta Gladiators' near-flawless performance, as the best team in the competition rose to the occasion on its most important day to inflict a heavy defeat on Peshawar Zalmi. It was the fourth time the two had met this season, with Quetta, under the savvy guidance of Sarfaraz Ahmed, prevailing each time. This one was perhaps the most comfortable, with Quetta easing to their first PSL crown with an emphatic eight-wicket win achieved in 17.5 overs.
Peshawar's heroes in the eliminator, Kamran Akmal and Imam-ul-Haq, both fell cheaply on Sunday, and that meant the middle order - which lacked Liam Dawson - had to consolidate for much of the innings. The run rate consequently took a hit and, in the final overs, left Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy to provide the fireworks. Much like the rest of the Peshawar side, they failed to live up to the occasion. All five of Quetta's bowlers had brought their A games to help them march to a title they hadn't won before, and their hunger was evident in their game. Peshawar's formidable fast bowling line-up may have felt they could defend almost anything, but Quetta are expert chasers, and the 138 for 8 that Peshawar put up never looked like challenging Quetta.
Mohammad Hasnain, who will turn 19 in three weeks and who is less than a week away from a likely Pakistan debut, showed why he is so highly rated with a sublime four-over spell in the biggest game of his young career. He tore chunks out of the Peshawar top and middle order, intense with his pace and stingy with the runs, hurrying on to batsmen and ushering them back to the pavilion in a hurry. The accuracy, too, for an inexperienced man with pace like his, was remarkably unerring and - though we've seen this movie many times before - here is another young Pakistani quick with the world at his feet.
Imam was the first to go off Hasnain's third delivery, the extra bounce beating him and taking a top edge. After Umar Amin had got a middle-order partnership going in the absence of heroics from the Peshawar openers, Hasnain was brought back into the attack and struck with his first delivery. He rushed on to Amin, who could only jab the ball to the square-leg fielder. The big fish was yet to come, and he toyed with Pollard for a full over, before coming back with a vengeance after being struck for four. It was another short, quick ball that did the damage, Pollard looking to pull but only managing an edge to the keeper.
This was a real team chasing a real honour, no hit-and-giggle exhibition where the result didn't matter. That was why Fawad Ahmed, still visibly uncomfortable following a nasty blow to the face that required stitches and surgery a few days ago, decided to take the field again, delivering his usual sublime spell of legspin bowling. He got the ball to spit and fizz, making Peshawar's decision not to play Dawson all the more puzzling.
The only moment of doubt in the chase came when Shane Watson was run out after Ahmed Shehzad called him for a suicidal single. Amin completed a direct hit to run the Australian out, and Imam generously offered a verbal spray that Watson didn't seem to particularly enjoy. Quetta, however, were enjoying the occasion, and Shehzad took control of the chase to ensure Peshawar were never allowed to get their hopes up.
Not that Peshawar didn't try. They used seven different bowlers, two of them spinners who ideally shouldn't have been bowling in a game of this magnitude with the margin for error so small. Wahab Riaz and Hasan Ali put in typically spirited performances, Wahab in particular raising Peshawar's hopes one final time after he dismissed Ahsan Ali, hoping to trigger a mini-collapse that would allow Peshawar to sneak back into the game. But in Shehzad and Rilee Rossouw, Quetta had too much experience to panic, and too much quality lower down the order to allow any real pressure to be felt.
In the end, Rossouw struck the winning runs while Shehzad ended unbeaten on a 51-ball 58. A fixture in the Quetta side since he joined in 2017, Rossouw had been particularly sincere in his apologies when deciding not to come to Pakistan in 2017, citing security concerns. On that day, Quetta had fallen to the very same opponents in a game that they had never really been able to get into. Here, with Rossouw, Watson and all of Quetta's overseas contingent present, they were able to pay Peshawar back in kind. It might not have been a final for the ages, but over the years, as Sarfaraz and his men wind down their careers, tonight will go down as one of the most prominent highlights.