Lahore: Title-holders Peshawar Zalmi beat Quetta Gladiators in the first eliminator by one run with a last-ball thriller in Lahore as the third edition of the Pakistan Super League returned home on Tuesday.
The first 31 matches of the league — started in 2016 in the style of the Indian Premier League — were held in Dubai and Sharjah.
Quetta, chasing 158 for victory, needed 25 in the last over with Anwar Ali smashing three sixes and a boundary to keep the target down to three, but his partner Mir Hamza was run out as the batsmen tried a second run.
Peshawar Zalmi notched up 157 all out in 20 overs with former England all-rounder Liam Dawson scoring a 35-ball 62 with six boundaries and four sixes.
Pakistan paceman Rahat Ali took 4-16.
Peshawar's pace attack of Hasan Ali (2-21), Sameen Gul (2-21), Wahab Riaz (2-26) and Umaid Asif (2-26) destroyed Quetta, for whom Sarfraz Ahmed and Mohammad Nawaz made 35 each.
Peshawar will now take on Karachi Kings in the second eliminator in Lahore on Wednesday and the winner of that match will face Islamabad United in the final in Karachi on Sunday.
Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) have gradually revived international cricket in the country as improved security made it possible to host the final in Lahore in March last year.
That was followed by a three-match Twenty20 series against a World XI — comprising of players from seven countries — in September plus a single Twenty20 match against Sri Lanka a month later.
International cricket was suspended in Pakistan after terrorist attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009.
But Pakistan did host five limited-overs matches against Zimbabwe in 2015.
Quetta was weakened by the withdrawal of its key foreign players Kevin Pietersen (England), Shane Watson and Ben Laughlin (both Australia) who had security concerns about playing in Pakistan.
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It was supposed to be a warm-up series ahead of the T20 World Cup but with the showpiece event being postponed last month due to the global health crisis, the two cricket boards decided to postpone it.
It is expected that Cricket Australia will like to host the T20 World Cup in October 2021 as it had already started preparations and wouldn't like to wait for two years but BCCI also doesn't want to forego its right to host the tournament in 2021.
BCCI president Sourav Ganguly had earlier confirmed that the Women’s T20 Challenge will take place this year in November, during the men’s Indian Premier League.