All-round performance by Shoaib Malik earned Central Punjab their first win while Aamir Jamal’s top display with both bat and ball helped Northern defeat Southern Punjab in their respective matches of the Kingdom Valley National T20 Cup 2022-23 here at Pindi Stadium, Rawalpindi on Tuesday.
In the first game, Central Punjab finally opened their account in the National T20 Cup with an 11-run win over Sindh. Experienced all-rounder Shoaib Malik blasted 54 not out off 33 (four fours and two sixes) to lift Central Punjab to 188 for five and then got the crucial wicket of dangerous-looking Saim Ayub in his one for 16 off two overs in Central Punjab’s 11-run triumph over Sindh.
Shoaib and Irfan Khan Niazi, who scored a blazing 33 not out off 14 hitting four sixes, added 64 runs in the last 29 balls to help Central Punjab post a towering score.
Central Punjab were dealt serious blows in the first and third over as Sohail Khan accounted for openers Abdullah Shafique and Mohammad Akhlaq, but a solid 67-run partnership between Mohammad Faizan and Tayyab Tahir rescued the side from a collapse.
Faizan was instrumental in the attacking partnership with his brilliant 55 at a staggering strike rate of 229. He struck four sixes and six fours in his 24-ball knock before falling to leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed, who also dismissed Central Punjab captain Qasim Akram.
Tayyab, the top-scorer in the tournament, made 33 off 28, hitting two fours and a six. Sarfaraz Ahmed top-scored in the match with an unbeaten 62, compiled at a strike rate of 168, but the lack of support from the other end allowed Central Punjab to earn their first win after four defeats.
Sindh looked on track of scaling down the target but the dismissal of Saim in the seventh over altered the course of the match. Sindh, at the time of Saim’s wicket were cruising at 62 off just 6.3 overs. Saad Khan was bowled by Usama Mir in the next over and in the 15th over he sent Omair Bin Yousuf (37 off 29) and Danish Aziz back to the pavilion as Sindh slipped to 122 for five. Usama finished with three for 34.
Meanwhile in the second game of the day, all-rounder Aamir Jamal’s display with both bat and ball won Northern a thriller against Southern Punjab by five runs. Aamir’s swashbuckling 47 not out off 17, studded with four sixes and five fours – lifted Northern to 187 for eight after his captain Umar Amin, who stroked a half-century, elected to bat.
Northern were in a spot of bother with openers Zeeshan Malik and Hasan Nawaz dismissed in the first two overs, but a 51-run partnership for the third wicket between Nasir Nawaz (13 off 17) and Umar (52 off 42) rescued the innings and provided a platform to Mubasir Khan (34 off 18) and Aamir to go berserk in the latter half.
When it came to defending the total, Aamer, later named player of the match, with the dismissals of Zain Abbas, Sharoon Siraj and Zeeshan Ashraf across his eight deliveries derailed Southern Punjab’s innings despite a promising beginning after Zain (81 off 46) and Mohammad Shehzad (28 off 24) added 111 runs for the first wicket.
Zain’s 81 was studded with six sixes and as many fours, while Muhammad Imran, with 12-ball 24, provided Southern Punjab fans a glimpse of hope, but was dismissed by Zaman Khan in the 18th over. Zaman, like Aamir, also took three wickets, while experienced all-rounder Sohail Tanvir took two wickets for 39. —APP