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Final Match Report: Islamabad United Vs Quetta Gladiators

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United win the first ever PSL after a professional performance against the Gladiators!
The final of the first ever HBL PSL kicked off in great style in front of a packed house in Dubai. The anticipation was finally over; the excitement level was high and the pressure indescribable.

Islamabad United won the toss and chose to field first, with Bismillah Khan and Ahmed Shehzad opening the innings for the Gladiators. Irfan bowled the first over and picked up Bismillah for a duck on the third ball of the innings as he edged it towards Brad Haddin, giving United a great start. Pietersen was next, and looked to take on all the bowlers.

He smashed Irfan for a glorious six towards deep midwicket, before Shehzad began to play a few shots of his own too. Just as these two were building a steady partnership for Quetta, Pietersen was dismissed by Andre Russell in the sixth over, courtesy a stunning catch in the deep by Asif Ali. The legendary Kumar Sangakkara came out next and started rotating the strike beautifully, looking happy to support Shehzad who continued to bat well. After the first ten overs, Gladiators were 68/2.

With these two batsmen well set, Imran Khalid dropped a sitter which would have sent Shehzad packing in the 11th over, a mistake which was punished by the Gladiators. Sangakkara also picked up the run rate and attacked the spinners, and the pair had set the right platform and recovered well after losing those early wickets.

There was no stopping Sangakkara once he decided to step up, whacked Sami for a six, then took Dwayne Smith to the cleaners and continued to dominate the bowlers, racing to his half century in only 30 deliveries in the process. He was finally dismissed by Russell after a phenomenal innings, after putting on 87 runs from 56 balls partnership for the third wicket. Shehzad also completed his half century from 35 balls with the Gladiators looking strong at 129/3 after 15 overs.

Nawaz was bowled out cheaply by Badree, with the skipper Sarfraz Ahmed coming in to the middle. Shehzad played a few more boundaries before departing in the 17th over after scoring a spectacular 64 from 39 balls. Islamabad fought back well in the death overs after that wicket, took regular wickets and tightened the screws. Quetta scored 15 runs in the last over to finish their innings at 174/7, and with their bowling attack, they would have been pretty happy with that effort going in to the break.

Dwayne Smith and the only centurion of the tournament, Sharjeel Khan opened the innings for United. Smith wasted little time and started dealing only in boundaries to give Islamabad a flying start. He smashed Anwar Ali for back to back boundaries; he then hit Nathan McCullum for plenty of runs, as he went after all the bowlers and smashed them all over the park.

Sharjeel played the supporting role to Smith, punishing any loose deliveries in the process with Islamabad United off to a dream start at 46/0 after five overs. Sharjeel was bowled by McCullum in the sixth over, with Haddin coming to the middle. Smith went about his business responsibly and completed his half century in only 32 balls. Nawaz bowled brilliantly and stopped the runs for a while, with Anwar Ali dropping Smith in the 10th over off his bowling. After the first ten overs United were 83/1, looking well set to chase the total down and be crowned champions.

Haddin also began to hit some big shots as the match seemed to slip away from the Gladiators. They needed to break this partnership soon, with both batsmen comfortable on the crease. Elliott was smashed for two sixes in the 13th over, with United racing towards the target with ease. Smith was finally caught by Pietersen off Zulfiqar Babar in the 16th over, after an impressive knock of 73 runs from 51 balls.

Cheema bowled out Russell next as Gladiators clawed their way back in to the game. Khalid Latif and Brad Haddin seemed unfazed by those quick wickets and continued to hit boundaries to take United home. United won comfortably in the end by 6 wickets in the second last over, becoming the first ever champions of the HBL PSL! Haddin remained not out 61 from 39 balls, with the Islamabad camp running on to the field to celebrate a much deserved victory. What an amazing tournament this was, next year should be just as exciting!

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