Match 17 – Central Punjab make it 2/2 Against Sindh
The Lahore leg of National T20 Cup 2021 kicked off with Sindh clashing against Central Punjab. Central Punjab decided to bowl first after winning the toss. Khurram Manzoor and Sharjeel Khan opened the innings for Sindh today in the absence of Shan Masood. Both the openers were dismissed cheaply Courtesy of some great bowling by Faheem Ashraf. Ahsan Ali showed some form with his 23 but he didn’t get much support from Saud Shakeel who went back to the pavilion after scoring just 5. Soon after Saud’s dismissal Ahsan also got out and Sindh were in deep trouble with just 32 runs on the board and 4 wickets down. Danish Aziz and the skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed started rebuilding the innings.
They both put a stand of 35 runs, afterwards Danish Aziz got out to Usman Qadir. Sarfaraz continued the hard work with Anwar Ali, Sarfaraz Ahmed completed his half century, Anwar managed 20 as Sindh finished their innings on 128/7. Faheem Ashraf and Hasan Ali managed 2 wickets each. Sindh got a little hope at the start of the chase by Central Punjab when Kamran Akmal threw his wicket away early. Mir Hamza got him caught behind. A couple of overs later, Ahmed Shahzad’s lazy running cost him his wicket. At 33/2, Sindh had a hope that they can defend the score but in form Shoaib Malik and Hussain Talat Crushed the hopes of Sindh. Talat and Malik piled up 98 runs together to finish the chase with ease. Hussain Talat scored 68(52)* while Shoaib Malik smashed 40(25)*. Hussain Talat was awarded Man of the Match for his brilliant knock.
Match 18 – Agha Salman keeps Southern Punjab alive in the tournament
The second match of the day began between Northern and Southern Punjab. Originally, the schedule was for Balochistan vs Northern, but after 4 players of Balochistan tested positive for Covid-19, their game was swapped with Northern vs Southern Punjab. For the first time in the tournament, Southern Punjab won the toss and elected to field first, but they weren’t able to do anything special. The poor fielding and poor bowling continued for them today as well. Nasir Nawaz and Ali Imran provided a quick start to Northern. The opening stand was of 29 runs after which Nasir lost his wicket to Aamer Yamin while Zia-ul-Haq dismissed Ali Imran soon as well.
The Carnage happened for Southern Punjab after the dismissal of the openers. Haider Ali continued his electric form, while Asif Ali was promoted up to capitalize on the situation. Asif Ali got out after scoring 21(18) but Haider continued to pile up the runs with Mohammad Nawaz. Both Nawaz and Haider got some opportunities as Southern Punjab didn’t take the catches neither did they field well. The stand between Nawaz and Haider was of 85 runs. Nawaz got out after scoring 38(25), however the arrival of Imad Wasim proved more disastrous for Southern Punjab. Imad Wasim scored 40(18) alongside Haider who finished at 72(40)* as Northern posted the highest team total of the tournament, 211/5.
Southern Punjab began the chase with a positive intent. Zeeshan Ashraf and Sohaib Maqsood took the charge and showed Northern that they are going for the chase. However Zeeshan Ashraf was stumped in the second over off Imad Wasim’s bowling. Sohaib Maqsood looked in good touch, got the start but threw it away. Sohaib managed 23(14). Tayyab Tahir was another batsman who got the start but couldn’t convert it into a big one and got out early. Southern Punjab were 58/3 when Agha Salman and Khushdil Shah put up a good partnership. The 45 run stand between Khushdil and Agha Salman allowed Southern Punjab to cross the 100 run mark. Mohammad Nawaz was the one who broke this partnership after being attacked by Khushdil Shah on the initial deliveries. Khushdil got out for 24.
Azam Khan also delivered a good cameo but the team needed a lot more. In just 9 balls Azam made 23, but the target was big and Southern Punjab needed him to stay at the wicket. Agha Salman kept the scorecard ticking, while he got some valuable support from his skipper, Aamer Yamin at the other end. Agha kept on rotating the strike while Aamer Yamin was the one who was finding the boundaries.
With 39 needed in the final 3 overs, Agha Salman took the charge against Salman Irshad and Southern Punjab managed 14 runs in the 18th over. Agha also completed his half century as well in the over. Just 25 were required in the final 2 overs, when Aamer Yamin smashed two sixes to Sohail Tanvir in the 19th over and eased the equation. Mohammad Nawaz was chosen to bowl the final over and defend 8 runs. Agha Salman managed a run on the first ball, while on the second ball Aamer Yamin got run out while attempting for a second run. Hassan Khan took a single and Agha Salman was on strike when Southern Punjab needed 5 off 3. Agha Salman finished it with a four and six to give Southern Punjab their first win of National T20 Cup 2021. Agha Salman remained unbeaten on 68* and was awarded Man of the Match for his brilliant innings.