From outstanding individual performances to scuffles between players, and a million dollars for a catch in the crowd to emerging new stars, this month has been a roller coaster ride for all the cricket-starved fans in Pakistan.
The inaugural Pakistan Super League (PSL) could have been made garish by adding a couple of cheer leaders and extravagant programs like other leagues, but the electric atmosphere and quality cricket more than made up for the sideshows and made it stand out from its competition.
When jam-packed stadiums in Dubai and Sharjah echoed with slogans celebrating Pakistan, it was enough to melt our hearts and make the league something we could proudly own.
A standing ovation to all those stellar performances, nail-biting finishes, the few pinches of arguments and emerging players shining through and making their presence felt.
Cheers to the journey of PSL ’16!
Here are a few moments that revived our love for the game:
Who knew that the heat between Karachi Kings and Lahore Qalandars would be more than the India-Pakistan battles?
It was in the build up to that anticipated clash that our Facebook newsfeeds busted ‘metro vs. chingchi’ jokes.
And when Amir took a hat-trick and Lendll Simmons in partnership with Shakib Al Hasan established a 109-run stand, our hearts pounded and erupted in jubilation.
Kings easily won the match and it looked like that it would go on to dominate the league, which unfortunately didn’t happen.
A sporting hero is an individual capable of conjuring something extra when it really matters. The unheralded Cheema proved himself to be the ‘hero’ for Quetta Gladiators in a tense playoff against Peshawar Zalmi.
Eight required in six was elementary considering the batsman-dominated nature of the game today. Everybody had their money on Zalmi to emerge victorious, but then the unpredictable happened.
Cheema steamed in, hit the deck hard, and he gave us a repeat performance of that nerve-wracking last over in 2012 Asia Cup final when Pakistan beat Bangladesh by two runs.
Just as movies are incomplete without a dash of fireworks, a cricket league too cannot make headlines without a bit of controversy and drama.
Remember Shahid Afridi and Gautam Gambhir’s scuffle in the India-Pakistan ODI at Kanpur? And when Ishant Sharma got in the face of our very own Kamran Akmal?
The list of such quarrels is endless but there is nothing to feel bad about. It’s not cricket if there are no emotions or a little bit of banter.
The Wahab-Shehzad brawl offered a glimpse into how seriously the players were taking the PSL and it wasn’t just fun and games. There were emotions, rivalry and a thirst to tear apart oppositions.
Gul vs. Afridi next edition?
It was not the first time that Shahid Afridi’s daughters showed up for a match.
They were seen in the stands on several occasions before the PSL to show support to their father Mr. ‘Boom Boom’.
But this time we saw them teary-eye and biting their nails restlessly as the match against Quetta Gladiators turned upside down for Peshawar Zalmi.
It made us feel terrible for Zalmi.
All the fans were thrilled by Quetta’s impressive show yet can’t get over those innocent, sad faces.
Quetta were termed the PSL’s ‘underdogs’ from day one, and with their gutsy performances they didn’t take long to become a neutral’s favourite.
Afghanistan Mohammad Nabi did it for Quetta against Qalandars and it was something about the understated player pulling off a sensation win which further enhanced the charm of the Gladiators.
The target on the scoreboard was mountainous. The first 200+ score was set to be chased down, and Quetta took it on rather bravely.
That match eventually sent a message across to other franchises that despite being a low-budget team and their ‘underdogs’ tag, the Quetta XI would not go down without a fight.
Nabi’s towering sixes and steely courage made way for the Gladiators to progress to the next stage in style.
The proudest moment of PSL was undoubtedly Sharjeel’s century.
With the league dominated by foreign batsmen for the most part, Sharjeel smacking the first century of the PSL was a moment to cherish.
Not to mention it took away the game from title-favourites Zalmi. Courtesy his knock, Sharjeel received national call up for the forthcoming World T20 in India.
Loved Darren Sammy’s passion? What would you say about Sir Vivian Richards jumping in excitement?
How about Sangakkara apologising to Quetta’s dugout for not hanging in there for a little longer or Kevin Pietersen advising young Mohammad Nawaz on what length to bowl?
The PSL was dotted with several moments when cricket just felt like a universal force.
As Misbah-ul-Haq hit those winning runs to lift the title, Islamabad’s slogan rang true for all of us: united we win.
Pakistan had won, and with cricket we let go of our differences.