Peshawar Zalmi capitalised on an early batting collapse by Quetta Gladiators to secure a 58-run victory in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) final on Sunday.
In the first-ever PSL match to be played in Pakistan due to lingering security fears in the South Asian nation, the Gladiators were left floundering at 13 for three wickets in the fifth over and never managed to recover from the setback as they were all out for 90.
Kamran Akmal notched up 40 runs while West Indian Twenty20 World Cup winner Darren Sammy scored a quickfire 28 not out in Zalmi’s total of 148-6.
The run up to the final was dominated by security issues after a wave of bombings by Islamist militants left more than 130 people dead last month, prompting calls for the final, like the rest of the series, to be played in United Arab Emirates.
Some high-profile foreign players such as former England captain Kevin Pietersen, who plays for the Quetta team, decided to skip the final.
But Sammy, who captained Peshawar Zalmi, produced a man-of-the-match performance as he belted three sixes in his 11-ball knock.
“The atmosphere was great. This win means a lot,” Sammy said during the presentation ceremony.
“It was a great experience being in Lahore. I thank the supporters and Pakistan.”
Pakistan has only hosted only one international series since militants attacked a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in 2009. Six players were hurt while two civilians and six security officials were killed in that attack.
A tour by Zimbabwe’s cricket team in 2015 was almost disrupted when a suicide bomber killed two security officials near a stadium.
In only its second year, the Twenty20 PSL competition has become a huge hit in Pakistan and boasts a television viewership in excess of 50 million people.
But the league has also been hit by allegations of match-fixing.
The Pakistan Cricket Board last month suspended three players and said it was investigating whether an international syndicate had attempted to influence matches in the PSL.