ISLAMABAD: A blistering knock by Sharoon Siraj took Southern Punjab to victory over Balochistan while Skipper Khalid Usman helped Khyber Pakhtunkhwa down Northern in the matches of Kingdom Valley National T20 Cup 2022-23 at Pindi Stadium, Rawalpindi on Thursday.
Earlier in the day, Southern Punjab recorded their first win of the National T20 Cup with a 21-run win over Balochistan. With one win each now, Balochistan and Southern Punjab were standing at third and fourth positions.
Southern Punjab looked down and out for the most part of their innings following their captain’s decision to bat as they were six down for only 80 in 14 overs before a blistering partnership between player of the match Sharoon Siraj and Mohammad Ilyas turned the game on its head as Southern Punjab set 157 for Balochistan.
The two added 76 runs to the team’s total at a rate of more than two runs per ball. Sharoon scored 57 not out off 49 in which he struck six fours and two sixes. But it was Ilyas’ whirlwind 41 off 17 – in which he smashed four sixes and two fours – that lifted Southern Punjab to 156 for six.
Yasir Shah, the Balochistan captain, was economical and made regular inroads, finishing with three for 17. His scalps were Sohaib Maqsood, Moinuddin and Muhammad Imran.
Balochistan’s run chase was off to a flying start with Haseebullah (21 off 22) and Asad Shafiq (43 off 35) adding 57 in 8.2 overs. But, once Salman Ali Agha, the Southern Punjab captain, accounted for Haseebullah in the ninth over, the match started to slip from Balochistan’s grasp. Young left-arm wrist spinner Faisal Akram sent Asad back to the pavilion in the next over.
Salman then accounted for Abdul Wahid Bangalzai and Shan Masood in the 13th over to reduce the batting side to 82 for four.
With 30 off 25, Hussain Talat showed some resistance down the order, but pacer Sameen Gul ensured that Balochistan never got back in the game with his dismissals of hard-hitting Amad Butt and Hussain.
Meanwhile in the second encounter of the day, Northern needed 160 to win and their opener Hasan Nawaz (38 off 25) looked on course to hand them their first win, but Khalid Usman’s off-spin put a dent in their hopes as he accounted for Nasir Nawaz and Hasan in the fifth and ninth overs to reduce the batting side to 53 for three.
What further hurt Northern was Khalid’s discipline – half of his 24 deliveries were dots as he finished with terrific figures of two for 16.
Rohail Nazir (24 off 29) and Ali Imran (31 off 27) ignited hopes with a 48-run stand off 41 balls, but the partnership ended at the end of the 15th over with Rohail’s dismissal and five balls later Ali followed him to the pavilion.
Aamir Jamal’s 29 not out off 15 lifted Northern’s scoring rate towards the backend of the innings and with 15 required off the last six, he brought his side closer to the win, but Mohammad Imran defended the target. Sahibzada Farhan was the star of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s innings with a 45-ball 53 (two fours and three sixes) and was duly supported by wicketkeeper Mohammad Haris (33 off 27) from the other end.
The opening pair put 83 runs in the first 10 overs that set the tone for the last 10 overs.
Mohammad Sarwar Afridi, in the middle order, made 24 off 20, while Khalid contributed 19 off 14. Usman Khan Shinwari and Salman Irshad returned three for 26 and three for 38.
Scores in brief:
Match 1- Southern Punjab 156-6, 20 overs (Sharoon Siraj 57 not out, Mohammad Ilyas 41 not out; Yasir Shah 3-17, Akif Javed 2-53).
Balochistan 135-8, 20 overs (Asad Shafiq 43, Hussain Talat 30, Haseebullah 21; Salman Ali Agha 3-15, Sameen Gul 2-26).
Match 2- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 159-8, 20 overs (Sahibzada Farhan 53, Mohammad Haris 33, Mohammad Sarwar Afridi 24; Usman Khan Shinwari 3-26, Salman Irshad 3-38).
Northern 157-5, 20 overs (Hasan Nawaz 38, Ali Imran 31, Aamir Jamal 29 not out, Rohail Nazir 24; Khalid Usman 2-16). Friday’s fixtures: Balochistan v Sindh starts at 0930; Central Punjab v Southern Punjab starts at 1345. (APP)