Southern Punjab stun Northern, book slot in National T20 Cup final
Southern Punjab stunned Northern by seven wickets, to book a slot in the final of the National T20 Cup, during their semi-final encounter at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi on Saturday.
Chasing a target of 161, Southern Punjab were off to a stable, bordering on dominant start, as openers Shan Masood and Zeeshan Ashraf stitched together a partnership of 91 runs off 62 deliveries.
Ashraf led the early onslaught making 55 runs off 32 deliveries with four fours and four sixes before being removed by fast-bowler Musa Khan.
The reliable Southern Punjab captain Masood continued to capitalise on the start and scored an unbeaten 79-run knock off 58 deliveries, as batsman Sohaib Maqsood (16 off 18) provided valuable support from the other end.
Southern Punjab’s Shadab Khan and Haris Rauf managed to remove Maqsood and batsman Khushdil Shah (1) towards the end to little avail as Southern Punjab crossed the finishing line with eight deliveries to spare.
Earlier, Northern won the toss and elected to bat first. Opener Zeeshan Malik (16) was the first to depart after being removed by fast-bowler Mohammad Abbas.
Ali Imran scored a fifty off 35 deliveries but fell soon after, which provided Southern Punjab with a crucial opening into Northern’s batting line-up.
The prolific Haider Ali (18) was never allowed to settle in and was removed by spinner Zahid Mehmood. Northern were then further jolted when hard-hitting batsman Asif Ali was removed by the same bowler for a golden duck.
Captain Imad Wasim’s decision to promote himself up the order in front of in-form batsman Shadab Khan and Rohail Nazir also backfired, after the all-rounder managed just 19 runs after facing 20 deliveries.
Shadab however was at the top of his game and scored an unbeaten 48-run knock off 27 deliveries to help Northern to 160 runs for the loss of five wickets in their allotted 20 overs.
Zahid Mehmood was the pick of the bowlers for the Southern Punjab side after claiming three wickets in four overs at the expense of 28 runs.