Match 23 – Northern down Central Punjab to a thrilling win
The National T20 Cup 2021 rolled on today without some of the major Pakistani stars as they had to join bio bubble in Lahore ahead of the World T20. Match 23 kicked off with Umar Amin leading Northern in the absence of Shadab Khan. Northern won the toss and decided to bowl first against Central Punjab. Central Punjab was led by Wahab Riaz. CP once again changed their opening pair as they benched Kamran Akmal. Ahmed Shahzad and Mohammad Akhlaq were asked to open and they made full use of the opportunity.
Both the batsmen started off very nicely. They timed their shots, got the gaps and kept scoring at a rapid pace. It was a bad day for the Northern bowlers. The opening pair of Akhlaq and Shahzad piled up 124 runs in 12 overs before Shahzad got out to Aamer Jamal. Shahzad made 77(45) including 10 fours and a six. Hussain Talat then made run a ball 11 while Akhlaq kept doing the scoring from the other end. Central Punjab were 150/2 in the 16th over after the dismissal of Hussain Talat. With Akhlaq out there and 8 wickets in hand, it was obvious that CP would get a total of around 190-200. Akhlaq fell in the 17th over to Sohail Tanvir, he scored 61(41). Cameos by Shoaib Malik and Faheem Ashraf allowed Central Punjab to get to the total of 194/5.
During the chase, Nasir Nawaz attacked the bowlers right from Ball 1 and that was indeed the reason why he lost his wicket in the very first over to Faheem Ashraf. However Ali Imran and Haider Ali put up a good partnership to stabilise the score. The 92 run stand between Haider and Imran allowed Northern a strong grip in the game. Ali Imran got out after scoring 55(32) to part time Hussain Talat, soon in the very next over Qasim Akram got the priced wicket of Haider Ali. Skipper Umar Amin and Mubasir Khan tried to provide some resistance but they both got starts and couldn’t cashin on that.
Also Read: Changes in Pakistan’s World T20 Squad.
Aamer Jamal and Rohail Nazir then decided to take Northern over the line. They kept taking calculated risks and never allowed Northern to slip out of the winning position. Northern needed 29 off the last 2 overs when Rohail Nazir took on the charge to Wahab Riaz. The 19th over of Northern innings, bowled by Wahab Riaz was of 20 runs and that was the turning point. With just 9 needed in the final over and 2 settled batsmen at the crease, it was a cakewalk for Northern. They finished the chase with 3 balls to spare. The partnership between Rohail Nazir and Aamer Jamal was of 50 runs. Aamer Jamal was awarded Man of the Match for his 3 wickets and 27(14) with the bat.
Match 24 – Sharjeel, Rumman inspire Sindh to a massive win
Southern Punjab once again won the toss and decided to bowl first. They won their last 2 matches while chasing and thought that they would do it once again. Sindh lost Ahsan Ali right in the very first over as he was caught and bowl by Aamer Yamin. Inform Sharjeel Khan built a partnership with Shan Masood. Shan got a start after struggling in the initial matches. Shan and Sharjeel put up a stand of 37 runs before Shan Masood got out to Imran Randhawa after scoring 22. Sharjeel was then supported by Saud Shakeel.
Saud Shakeel made 26(19) and his stand with Sharjeel Khan was of 56 runs. Saud also got out to Imran Randhawa who was having a good day with the ball. Skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed walked in next and kept on ticking the scorecard. Sharjeel Khan completed his half century in the process. Sarfaraz was dismissed in the 16th over and Sharjeel Khan took the charge after that. Sharjeel had his vice captain, Anwar Ali at the other end to support him. Sharjeel Khan did majority of the scoring himself and smashed his first century of this event. His hundred included 13 fours and 4 sixes. Sharjeel Khan got out in the 19th over after scoring 101(56) but the damage had been done by that point. Sindh posted 196/7 on the board.
Southern Punjab didn’t begin convincingly as Zeeshan Ashraf yet again failed to deliver and his wicket was taken by Sohail Khan. Tayyab Tahir continue his good form and kept the scorecard ticking. Tayyab and Agha Salman put up a stand of 43 runs before Tayyab was dismissed by Anwar Ali. In the very next over, Azam Khan got out for just 2 to Danish Aziz. Azam proved the decision of Pakistan selectors right to leave him out of the World T20 Squad today. After Azam, Moinuddin also gave his wicket away in the next over. 3 wickets falling in 3 overs shook the momentum of Southern Punjab.
Agha Salman and Imran Randhawa tried to build a little partnership. They both scored 33 runs together but Agha Salman was dismissed for 21(18) by Zahid Mahmood. A couple of overs later, Imran Randhawa also got caught out for 29(20) and the collapse continued.
In form skipper Aamer Yamin tried to do some recovery with Hassan Khan. Aamer was doing majority of the scoring but Hassan Khan tried to slot after seeing the increasing required rate, and threw his wicket away to Rumman Raees. Right on the very next ball, Aamer Yamin tried to slog and threw his wicket away as well after scoring 27(18). With 2 wickets in 2 balls, Rumman was on a hat-trick and the hat trick did happen. Naseem Shah was bowled on first ball and the crowd witnessed the first hat trick of National T20 Cup 2021. Southern Punjab were 9 down by this point and there hopes were done and dusted. Zia-ul-Haq struck a couple of sixes and tried to help Southern Punjab but he was dismissed by Danish Aziz and Sindh won the game by 45 runs. The journey for Southern Punjab ended in the National T20 Cup 2021.