Peshawar through to 3rd successive PSL final

Kamran Akmal of Peshawar Zalmi hits a boundary against Islamabad United during the Pakistan Super League playoff at National Stadium in Karachi on Friday. (AP Photo)
Updated 16 March 2019
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Peshawar through to 3rd successive PSL final

  • A minute's silence was observed before the match to honor those who lost their lives in New Zealand’s mosques
  • Akmal smashed 74 off 43 balls, with 10 fours and three sixes

KARACHI: Kamran Akmal's blistering half century propelled 2017 winner Peshawar Zalmi to its third straight Pakistan Super League final with a convincing 48-run victory over defending champion Islamabad United on Friday.

Peshawar will take on Quetta Gladiators on Sunday in a repeat of the final two years ago.

A minute's silence was observed before the start of eliminator 2 in memory of those who died in deadly attacks on two mosques in New Zealand earlier on Friday. Players and officials also wore black armbands during the match at a packed 32,000-capacity National Stadium.

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ehsan Mani condemned the incident and said in a statement it was "cowardly, uncivilized and inhuman terrorist attacks on the innocent worshippers in Christchurch mosques."

Akmal smashed 74 off 43 balls, with 10 fours and three sixes, as Peshawar finished with an imposing 214-5 after Islamabad won the toss and elected to field.

Akmal paired with young Imam-ul-Haq, who made 58 off 33 balls, for a strong 135-run opening stand before both were dismissed by part-time seamer Cameron Delport (2-24) in the 13th over. Captain Darren Sammy provided a perfect finish by smashing 30 off 15 balls.

Chadwick Walton then scored 48 off 29 balls as Islamabad was restricted to 166-9 after losing all its big hitters by the 12th over.

Peshawar's Hasan Ali, the PSL's top wicket-taker, bowled with lot of pace in claiming 3-29. He accounted for the key wickets of Islamabad's Cameron Delport (28), Hussain Talat (19) and Luke Ronchi (17). Chris Jordan of England also took 3-26 including the wicket of his countryman Alex Hales, who could score only 1.

Islamabad's Rumman Raees conceded 48 off his four overs without taking a wicket. Shadab Khan also gave away 46 runs for one wicket as Akmal hit the leg spinner for two sixes and two fours in one over.


KSA’s martial arts heroine: ‘I got into kickboxing by coincidence, as I just wanted to join a gym’

Updated 19 March 2019
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KSA’s martial arts heroine: ‘I got into kickboxing by coincidence, as I just wanted to join a gym’

  • Young Saudi triumphant at Open International Tournament despite just two years of training
  • Zahra Al-Qurashi took the gold in the women’s 70 kg category, beating Jordanian Heba Wasfi

JEDDAH: Zahra Al-Qurashi never expected to be where she is today: A gold medal winner in full contact kickboxing at the Open International Tournament for Clubs aged just 21. What started out as a gym class two years ago soon turned into a passion, leading to her victory in Amman on Sunday.

“I got into kickboxing by coincidence, as I just wanted to join a gym. I found the class and gave it a try, and decided to keep attending the classes,” she said. “A year ago, I joined Flagboxing Gym, and started training with my coach Grethe (Kraugerud). With her help, I developed my style and I am improving every day.”

Full contact is a discipline of kickboxing where punches and kicks must be delivered to legal areas of the body. According to the World Association for Kickboxing Organizations’ rules, it is legal to attack the front of the head and front and side of the torso, using “ankle-level foot sweeps.” It is prohibited to attack the throat, lower abdomen, back, legs, joints, back of the head and top of the shoulders.

A medal at her first international competition, then, speaks volumes about Al-Qurashi’s tenacity. She took the gold in the women’s 70 kg category, beating Jordanian Heba Wasfi.

“As soon as I entered the ring, everything went blank, I couldn’t hear or see anyone but my opponent, so I don’t really recall hearing my name even,” said Al-Qurashi. “I got a couple of really good kicks and punches, but she was a good opponent. I was in my own zone though, following every move and made sure I didn’t make mistakes.”

Zahra Al-Quraishi, 21, is already a gold medal winner at an international event despite being a virtual rookie in the demanding sport of kickboxing. (Supplied photos)

Hala Al-Hamrani, the owner of Flagboxing Gym in Jeddah, said: “I am over the moon. I have dreamt about this happening for 16 years, ever since I started coaching. My goal was to eventually provide the ladies of this country with an opportunity to compete.”

For approximately two months, Kraugerud, from Norway, oversaw Al-Qurashi’s workouts, adding more sparring, interval training and intense ring practice.

“I’ve had Zahra spar with men, who are bigger and stronger than her, to give her a sense of what to expect in the ring, to give her more confidence and make her mentally prepared,” said Kraugerud. “I was very proud of her as she entered the ring, you could see the respect for the sport reflected in her. We did a really good job at Flag, we really pushed for this together as a team. She’s young, but she’s talented and she will go far.”

Al-Hamrani, a member of the Saudi Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Federation, added: “We got her ready by providing her with the right practice and training. It’s a dream come true and it’s very overwhelming because it was such a long process for something like this to happen. Zahra is an up-and-coming athlete who hopefully has a long future and I’m extremely excited to see what that future holds.”

Abdul Aziz Julaidan, chairman of the Saudi MMA Federation, hailed the result after a tough bout between the two competitors, and thanked Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sport Authority, for the support he had given to the team.

Upon returning to her hometown of Jeddah, Al-Qurashi was greeted by her mother. “I was hugging her and crying and mom, being mom, asked if I was crying because I got hit,” she laughed. “That was her way of saying: I’m proud of you.”