Sunday, December 4, 2022

Fakhar Zaman's blazing 68 downs Southern Punjab by 73 runs

Fakhar Zaman's blazing 68 downs Southern Punjab by 73 runs

RAWALPINDI (92 News) – A blazing 34-ball 68 from Fakhar Zaman orchestrated Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s fifth win of the National T20 Cup as they recorded a comprehensive 73-run win over Southern Punjab at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Monday.

The left-handed opener stroked his third half-century of the tournament before Musadiq Ahmed blasted 33 runs from nine balls to lift Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to an imposing 205 for four.

Following Shan Masood’s decision to bowl first, Fakhar provided Khyber Pakhtunkhwa a solid start. The 30-year-old smashed as many as 11 fours and two sixes over the course of an innings during which he put a 71-run partnership for the second wicket with Mohammad Hafeez, who made 17 runs from 20 balls.

Fakhar set Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s innings alight in the fifth over, which yielded 19 runs, by smashing Ali Shafiq for three fours and a six.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were well positioned at 99 for one when Fakhar was caught by Hussain Talat off Mohammad Ilyas ball on the penultimate ball of the 10th over. Hafeez followed him back two balls later, which plummeted Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s scoring rate as the next 3.5 overs added only 24 runs to their total.

Iftikhar Ahmed struck four sixes in his 22-ball 36 before getting dismissed on the second ball of the 18th over by Ilyas, who finished with 43 for two.

Musadiq, who replaced Iftikhar, raced to 20 runs from the next four deliveries as he smashed six, six, four and four. That over brought 21 runs – the most in the innings for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.  The 31-year-old hit a six and a four more before returning not out on 33.

He partnered with Shoaib Malik (33 not out off 28, one four) for 43 runs from 16 balls and that the veteran all-rounder contributed only eight of them underscores how Musadiq dominated the proceedings.

Aamer Yamin was the other bowler to take two wickets. The right-arm quick returned two for 36.

Southern Punjab’s abysmal run in the tournament continued as they were bowled out for 132 in 19.3 overs. Shan (0 off three) was the first wicket to fall as he was dismissed by Shaheen Shah Afridi - the highest wicket taker of the tournament with 15 scalps at 7.04 from six matches to date – on the third ball.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Zeeshan Ashraf was out in the fourth over after making 10 off 11, which reduced Southern Punjab to 21 for two. A 40-run stand for the third wicket between Zain Abbas (34 off 21, three fours and two sixes) and Sohaib Maqsood (17 off 16, three fours) gave a glimpse of hope to Southern Punjab fans.

However, the dismissal of Sohaib on the last ball of the eighth over sparked a collapse that saw Southern Punjab slip from 61 for three to 78 for seven. Batting at eight, Mohammad Imran made a quickfire 48, which only went on to reduce the margin of defeat. Imran, over the course of his 28-ball stay at the crease, struck six fours and two sixes. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Junaid Khan, the left-arm pacer, took two wickets for 31 runs.

Ahmed bowls Central Punjab to 9-wicket win

Fast bowler Ahmed Bashir took his career-best figures (four for 23) as Central Punjab earned much-needed two points in the 22nd match of the National T20 Cup for First XI teams with a comfortable nine-wicket victory against Balochistan at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on Monday night.

The 24-year-old Ahmed, who had taken three wickets in his first appearance of the tournament against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa last Tuesday in Multan, took his tournament tally to seven wickets from a mere two appearances with a fine bowling effort on a pitch that offered some assistance to both seamers and spinners as Balochistan were restricted to 125 for eight in 20 overs.

Central Punjab batsmen then coasted past the target with captain Babar Azam making another entry in the record books by reaching 1000 runs in National T20 Cup in a mere 27 innings (fastest-ever). Babar followed his 86 not out and 86 in the previous two games with an exquisite unbeaten 64-run innings (40 balls, nine fours, two sixes).

Babar added 86 runs for the first-wicket with Kamran Akmal in a mere 9.4 overs, Kamran was dismissed by Amad Butt for 33 (27 balls, six fours)

Babar and Abdullah Shafiq finished the game with 38 balls to spare with an undefeated second-wicket stand of 41 runs; Abdullah scored 27 off 15 balls (four fours).

Central Punjab asked Balochistan to bat first after winning the toss. Balochistan were rocked early in their innings as off-spinner Qasim Akram dismissed Imam-ul-Haq (5) and his Pakistan U19 teammate Abdul Wahid Bangalzai (0) off successive balls in the third over. Qasim who bowled brilliantly with the new ball conceded a mere seven runs in his three-over opening spell.

On the other end, Opener Awais Zia (5) was sent packing by Ahmed Bashir on the fifth ball of the sixth over as Balochistan were left reeling at 20 for three. The situation worsened for the batting side as Bismillah Khan was dismissed by leg-spinner Usman Qadir for 11 runs.

Akbar-ur-Rehman (19) added 44 runs for the fifth wicket with his captain Haris Sohail before falling to Bashir.

Haris top-scored with a fighting 41 off 36 balls (three fours, three sixes); he became Bashir’s fourth victim after the right-armer had accounted for Amad Butt (15) two balls earlier.

Meanwhile, Central Punjab have now accumulated six points from eight matches (three wins, five losses) while Balochistan have a tally of eight from as many games (four wins, four losses).