Federal Areas yet again displayed excellent team coordination to outgun Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by five wickets in the final while retaining their Cool & Cool presents Pepsi Pakistan Cup title in Faisalabad on Sunday night.
Watched by easily the biggest crowd of the 11-match gala, Federal Areas were always in control as they continued their domination to keep intact unbeaten run by cantering to a fifth straight success after chasing down a modest target of 253. Umaid Asif finished the game with two sixes and a four in the 41st over delivered by spinner Mohammad Irfan whose five overs went for 54 runs.
And although no one played a major knock in the title-decider, there were useful contributions from four of the top six as Kamran Akmal blasted a 24-ball 38 with four sixes and two fours before Raza Ali Dar (49 off 53 balls, seven boundaries0 and Agha Salman (60 off 77, five fours) put on 69 for the third wicket.
Saad Nasim then bludgeoned a quickfire half century of his own as well. He slammed seven fours and one six in a carefree 51 off 34 balls while sharing a fourth-wicket of 79 with Salman.
Federal Areas’ positive intent was one hallmark of this competition. Their body language narrated a different tale altogether in contrast to that of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa even though the champions were always going to miss Sohaib Maqsood in the second half of the final after the Pakistan discard was taken to hospital with a probable dislocated shoulder after taking a tumble in the field.
With overnight rain turning the weather pleasant and the playing surface quite different in character to the usual batting paradise the Iqbal Stadium had dished out during the league stage, Kamran Akmal’s decision to bowl first paid off handsomely.
Both Khurram Manzoor and Shan Masood didn’t take undue risks in the mandatory 10-over Powerplay upfront before an indecisive running led to the in-form Khurram being run out by the combination of Raza Ali Dar and Raza Hasan.
Khurram came sprinting down for a nonexistent second run which was never there after heaving spinner Raza Hasan to the deep square-leg boundary which was being patrolled by Raza Ali Dar. The fielder had seen Khurram charging down after completing a single despite Shan signalling him to go back.
With an enraged Khurram gone for a rather circumspect 35-ball 32 (four boundaries), Federal Areas knew they had got the wicket they wanted as the Pakistan discard trudged off while cursing his luck.
Shan had progressed to 52 off 49 deliveries with the aid of six fours and a six off Raza Hasan when he became victim of a brilliant catch off his own bowling by seamer Umaid Asif who plucked the ball with an extended right hand high in the air as the left-hander chipped a drive.
Federal Areas committed a rare blunder when substitute Ashiq Ali — in for the injured Sohaib — spilled a sitter offered by Hafeez on 22. The veteran Pakistan right-hander later went onto become the highest scorer of the match with 86-ball contribution of 89 that included nine boundaries and one six.
After building a platform for a sizeable total when Hafeez and Israrullah had lifted Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to 158-2, the rot set in as Federal Areas bounced back to claim the last five wickets for the addition of mere 29 runs .
Umar Akmal had a dreadful time in Faisalabad and Sunday was no exception when he casually lobbed a catch to Saad Nasim, who was astutely placed by Umar’s older sibling Kamran at shirt midwicket. Umar made just one while his tally in the tournament was only 72 runs.
Usman Khan Shinwari, the left-arm Pakistan speedster, was the standout performer with the ball with three wickets for 34 runs in eight probing overs — an effort that earned him the Rs100,00 man-of-the-match award. Other prizes were bagged by Khurram (best batsman for his 393 runs), Waqas Maqsood (best bowler, 14 wickets) while Balochistan all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz won the outstanding cricketer award for his 121 runs and nine wickets. —Agencies