Islamabad United regain PSL trophy with comfortable win over Peshawar Zalmi

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Islamabad United players celebrate their victory after defeating Peshawar Zalmi in the final match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) at the National Stadium, Karachi, Pakistan on March 25, 2018. (AN photo)
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Islamabad United players celebrate their victory after defeating Peshawar Zalmi in the final match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) at the National Stadium, Karachi, Pakistan on March 25, 2018. (AN photo)
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Islamabad United players celebrate their victory after defeating Peshawar Zalmi in the final match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) at the National Stadium, Karachi, Pakistan on March 25, 2018. (AN photo)
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Islamabad United players celebrate their victory after defeating Peshawar Zalmi in the final match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) at the National Stadium, Karachi, Pakistan on March 25, 2018. (AN photo)
Updated 26 March 2018
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Islamabad United regain PSL trophy with comfortable win over Peshawar Zalmi

KARACHI: Islamabad United, winners of the inaugural 2016 Pakistan Super League, regained the trophy with a comprehensive victory over defending champions Peshawar Zalmi at the National Stadium on March 25.
The final of the Twenty20 tournament was the first high-profile match featuring leading international cricketers played in the city for nine years, and the stadium was packed for the occasion.
Luke Ronchi, who opened the innings for Islamabad with Sahibzada Farhan, punished the Peshawar bowlers with hard-hitting sixes and fours, scoring 52 off 26 balls. He was caught by Fletcher on Chris Jordan’s delivery, but only after helping his team to reach 96 runs in 8.4 overs, putting the match beyond Zalmi.
Ronchi was declared Man of the Match, and also collected Player of the Tournament award. Kumar Sangakkara of the Multan Sultans won the award for most catches this season, while Faheem Ashraf’s 18 wickets for Islamabad earned him the Best Bowler title.
Zalmi skipper Darren Sammy said he was disappointed his team had struggled to score runs.
“With the ball, we took a while to respond,” he said. “Ronchi made the difference. I said to the guys after the match: ‘Keep working with your heads held high.’”
Peshawar won the toss and elected to bat first. However, the decision backfired as the side struggled to a very difficult start and failed to set a big target. The reached only 149, a run total that was not easy to defend on a good batting track against a team with ruthless hitters, led by Ronchi.
Zalmi’s renowned opener, Kamran Akmal, who played an exceptional knock in the second eliminator against Karachi Kings, faced nine deliveries in the final but could not hit a single boundary. Islamabad’s left-arm spinner, Samit Patel, made an early breakthrough by taking Akmal’s wicket after the Peshawar batsman had managed to score only a single run.
Mohammad Hafeez also failed to impress, and was caught by Patel on his own delivery in the fifth over of the match, having scored only eight runs off six balls.
Andre Fletcher, who opened the inning with Akmal and scored 21 runs at a strike rate of 140, was the third victim of the Islamabad bowlers, losing his wicket to Shadab Khan.
Chris Jordan and Liam Dawson boosted Peshawar’s total to 90 before Hussain Talat dismantled the partnership when Jordan, the highest scorer of the inning with 36 runs, was caught by Islamabad skipper JP Duminy. Saad Nasim was the fifth batsman to fall, after scoring only two runs off three balls.
Skipper Sammy, who had entertained fans throughout the tournament with his big hitting, could not get into a groove either, adding only 6 runs.
Umaid Asif was the seventh out, followed by Dawson, the second-highest run scorer of the inning, who was bowled out for 33 runs by Mohammed Sami. Hasan Ali could add only six runs.
Wahab Riaz, however, gave his side a glimmer of hope by scoring 28 runs off 14 balls, taking Zalmi’s total to 148 for 9 in 20 overs. It kept the final alive as a contest, though the disappointing score proved too low to defend.
Islamabad, in contrast, got off to a flawless start thanks to Ronchi. After his dismissal, Chadwick Walton came out but was bowled out by Umaid Asif. Skipper JP Duminy did not remain on the pitch for long, caught and bowled by Chris Jordan after adding just two runs.
Sahibzada Farhan, who scored 44 off 33 balls at a strike rate of 133.33, was the fourth wicket to fall and after his return to the pavilion, Islamabad started losing wickets in quick succession.
However, just as it seemed the match was headed for a nail-biting conclusion, Asif Ali steadied the ship and brought his team to the brink of victory with three sixes. He remained not out and played a great knock at the incredible strike rate of 433.33, scoring 26 runs off only six balls.
However, it was Faheem Ashraf who hit the winning strike, a six off Wahab Riaz’s delivery, assuring his side a second PSL title in the three-year-history of the event with a total of 154 for seven in 16.5 overs.
Hasan Ali remained a costly bowler for Peshawar, conceding 53 runs in four overs and taking two wickets. Wahab Riaz conceded 28 in four overs, while Chris Jordan took two wickets in three overs and conceded 22 runs.
Before the sporting action began, leading Pakistani musical acts — including Ali Zafar, Strings, Shehzad Roy, Farhan Saeed and Aima Baig — entertained the spectators, who went through strict security checks as they entered the ground.
The gates of the stadium opened at noon but spectators continued to arrive until 7pm. During the prize-giving ceremony, Najam Sethi, the chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, thanked law enforcement agencies and the federal and provincial governments for making the final in Karachi possible. He also congratulated the people of the city on the return of top-level international cricket after nine years.
Earlier, hundreds of buses transported spectators to the stadium from five designated parking areas nearby.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and several members of his cabinet watched the match as guests of honor. Chief Minister of Sindh, Syed Murad Ali Shah, who earlier inspected the security operation a helicopter, was also in the crowd, along with members of his provincial administration.
At the end of the match, the Pakistan Army tweeted a message from Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa: “Congrats to Islamabad United ‘the Champions’. Pakistan won today! Best of the day was excited yet very disciplined spectators of Karachi. Nothing can defeat our national passion.”


NBA, FIBA announce plans for pro league in Africa

Updated 12 min 20 sec ago
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NBA, FIBA announce plans for pro league in Africa

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina: The NBA is bringing a pro league to Africa.
The Basketball Africa League, a new collaboration between the NBA and the sport’s global governing body FIBA, was announced Saturday. The initial plan is for the 12-team league to begin play in January, and former President Barack Obama is among those who are expected to have direct involvement with the league’s plan to keep growing the game in Africa through the league and other initiatives.
The scope of what Obama’s involvement will be remains unknown, and it’s yet to be determined which existing club teams will be part of the league. Qualification tournaments will be held later this year to determine those clubs, with teams from Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia expected to be among those taking part. No nation will have more than two teams in the league.
“As we’ve been talking about this concept over the last several months, there’s been a tremendous reception from many of our NBA team owners ... and in addition, several of the partners of the NBA have expressed a strong desire to work with us in Africa,” Silver said.
Silver said Pepsi and Nike’s Jordan Brand — Charlotte owner Michael Jordan was among the owners in the room where Silver made the announcement — are among the partners who have reached out to the NBA and said they want to be part of the Africa league. Silver also said that Obama, an enormous basketball fan, has told him he wants to “be directly involved with these activities in Africa.”
Silver said talks between the NBA and Obama are ongoing. Obama spoke on a video that was shown during the event where Silver announced the league.
“I hope you know through sport, that if you put in effort, you will be rewarded,” Obama said. “I hope you learn through sport what it means to play as a team, and even if you are the best player, your job is not just to show off but your job is to make your teammates better.”
The NBA and FIBA’s involvement will include financial support and resources toward continued growing of the game on the continent, as well as providing training for players, coaches and referees and some infrastructure for the new league. Silver said there are 438 companies in Africa that generate more than $1 billion in revenue annually, but that sport there has not seen the same growth — yet.
“Africa is a huge economic engine,” Silver said. “And one place, though, where we haven’t seen enormous economic growth yet is in the industry of sport. And that’s something that we are all particularly focused on.”
The NBA has held three games in Africa since 2015, all of them selling out — two games in Johannesburg, the other in Pretoria. Many of the league’s current players and coaches, along with several legends and Hall of Famers, have been part of those trips.
“I went with them last year,” Basketball Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said. “The NBA reaches out across the world.”
The league has an office in South Africa, has helped create 87 learn-and-play facilities in seven African nations, and 13 players who were born in Africa on opening-night NBA rosters this season. The league also built an academy in Senegal that opened nearly two years ago.
“It’s a huge joy to see our partnership with the NBA enter uncharted territory as we work together for the first time to maximize the potential of professional basketball in Africa,” said Andreas Zagklis, FIBA’s secretary-general.
This marks the first time the NBA has been involved with the operation of a league outside of North America.
“We’re excited to work closely with the NBA to develop and put in a place a professional league like none that we have ever seen in our region before,” said FIBA Africa Executive Director Alphonse Bile. “Through the Basketball Africa League, we can provide the many great clubs and players with the best possible environment to compete for the highest stakes.”
The NBA says more details about the new league will be released in the coming months.