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Playing in Lahore felt like playing in St. Lucia: Sammy post PSL triumph

Lahore [Pakistan]: Former West Indies T20 skipper Darren Sammy, who led Peshawar Zalmi to the Pakistan Super League Twenty20 title on Sunday, has insisted that playing the PSL final in Lahore felt like as if he is performing in his native place St. Lucia.

Chasing a target of 149 runs, Mohammad Asghar scalped three wickets as Peshawar Zalmi bundled out Quetta Gladiators for 90 to clinch a 58-run victory in the finals of the second edition of the PSL at the Gaddaffi Stadum.

Admitting that he enjoyed playing the cricket match in Lahore, Sammy remained hopeful that hosting the match at the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) headquarters could turn out to be a first step in revival of cricket in the country.

“I have enjoyed playing a cricket match [in Lahore] and I have even enjoyed being with the security guys as I have never seen something like this before so it was a good experience. It is hopefully a step in the right direction, where things could happen. What I can say is that being here felt like playing in St Lucia, playing in India or anywhere else in the world. And like I said at the toss, today I felt cricket was the winner,” ESPNcricnfo quoted Sammy as saying.

Sammy, who also led West Indies to two World Cup titles, revealed that his reason to travel to Lahore for PSL final despite the security threat was to “bring back the smiles” on the faces of the fans.

“To me it was more than just a game.It started with the draft. Lala [Afridi] made the big announcement that I would be the captain and one of our mottos was to bring back the smiles so I felt tonight I brought a lot of smiles in Lahore and Peshawar. It is an amazing day and this trophy means a lot,” he said.

Sammy was one of the nine overseas player who agreed to travel to eastern city of Lahore as stringent security measures were put in place around the 25,000-capacity stadium.

“When you have not been in a place you always have your doubts.You get different views, different opinions. But I spoke to Javed [Afridi, the Peshawar team owner] and Shahid Afridi and they influenced my decision to come here. All the boys just made the decision that we are part of something that we are coming down here for a good cause. The fans here deserve to see their players playing as they haven’t seen it for quite a while. I am glad I came here,” he added.

Earlier, there were doubts whether the PCB would hold the PSL final in Lahore following the February 13 suicide bombing in which 13 people were killed.

However, in a meeting held earlier this month between the PSL management and the five franchise owners in Dubai, it was decided the summit clash of the tournament would be held at the PCB headquarters on March 5 as per schedule.

Later, the Punjab government also gave its go-ahead for the final to take place in Lahore following thorough consideration and evaluation of security conditions in the country after a series of bomb blasts in the preceding weeks.

Meanwhile, in order to avoid any untoward incident at Sunday’s PSL final at the Gaddafi Stadium, unrivalled security arrangements were put in place by the Pakistan Government.

In order to meet any medical emergency, a temporary 25-bed hospital was also set up at the National Hockey Stadium, adjacent to Gaddafi Stadium.

A five-layer security was arranged to look after the two domestic teams, Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators. Both the teams were carried out from their hotels to the stadium and back in PCB’s own bullet proof buses.

It should be noted that this was the first match hosted by Pakistan since the terror attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in 2009,when six Pakistani Policemen were killed and some of the visiting players were injured. (ANI)