England’s Luc Benkenstein led the way for Gwadar Sharks with a magnificent 71 off 37 balls as his side defeated Bahawalpur Royals by eight wickets to become the first side to reach the Final of the Pakistan Junior League.

Put into bat at Gaddafi Stadium, Bahawalpur only managed to put 139-7 on the board after Mohammad Ismail jolted their innings early and they never recovered from the aftermath.

The pacer removed Tayyab Arif for a first-ball duck before dismissing the tournament’s highest run-getter Basit Ali for 20.

A 54-run fifth-wicket stand between Mohammad Danish (33 off 31 balls) and Farhan Yousaf (30 off 24 balls) eventually managed to help the Royals put 139 runs on the board.

Muhammad Ismail finished with the figures of 4-0-14-3 while Arafat Minhas, Aftab Ahmed and Mohammad Shoaib took one wicket apiece.

In reply, any hopes Royals had of stopping the Gwadar Sharks were quickly stamped out by Benkenstein despite Shamyl Hussain falling for a single run.

Benkenstein and wicketkeeper Mohammad Zulkifal added 76 runs for the second wicket to take the sail out of the Royals’ bowling line. The Englishman was dismissed for 76 by Mohammad Zeeshan but the damage was already done.

Zulkifal (51 off 44 balls) saw out the rest of the chase with an unbroken 46-run third-wicket stand with Danial Ibrahim to take Viv Richards-mentored Gwadar Sharks to the final.

The Royals will get another shot at the final as they await the winner of today’s eliminator between the Rawalpindi Raiders and Mardan Warriors.

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