Central Punjab to meet Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the Final of National T20 Cup:
Central Punjab will make an appearance in the National T20 Cup 2021 Final. They will face the challenge of defending champions Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Central Punjab defeated Sindh to qualify for the finals while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Crushed Northern to make back to back final appearances.
Semi Final 1 began with Iftikhar Ahmed deciding to bowl against Northern. Northern had a good start with a 48 run opening partnership. Both openers got start but couldn’t capitalise on the starts. Nasir Nawaz got out for 27 to Khalid Usman while Iftikhar Ahmed dismissed Ali Imran for 24. Skipper Umar Amin scored 22 runs while Zeeshan Malik managed 29. Every Northern batsman got a start but none of them could play a big innings. They also kept on losing wickets consistently which stopped them from posting a big total. 7 batsmen from Northern scored more than 15 runs but couldn’t get to the 30 run mark. This ordinary performance allowed Northern to put 156 runs on the board. Arshad Iqbal picked 3 wickets.
KP also had a good opening stand of 57 runs. Inform Sahibzada Farhan did the majority of the scoring, while Musaddiq Ahmed just scored 7 runs in the stand. After the dismissal of Mussadiq, Sahibzada Farhan went on to complete his fifty while Kamran Ghulam supported him. After scoring 53(39), Sahibzada Farhan was undone by Nauman Ali. Asif Afridi was sent in next but he got out after scoring just a run, to Salman Irshad. Skipper Iftikhar Ahmed and Kamran Ghulam had a 26 run stand before Ghulam was dismissed by Sohail Tanvir. Ghulam made 35(29). Soon in the very next over, Nabi Gul got out too and KP felt some trouble. With 49 needed in the last 23 balls, Iftikhar Ahmed took the matter in his hands. He smashed 3 sixes and 4 fours to get his team over the line. Iftikhar Ahmed scored unbeaten 45 off just 17 balls. He was supported by Khalid Usman who scored 15(11)* as KP won by 5 wickets to qualify for the finals.
Central Punjab won the toss and decided to bowl first in the second semi final. Sindh started of with a 50 run opening stand between Khurram Manzoor and Sharjeel Khan. Sharjeel was then bowled by Qasim Akram after making an attacking 32(19). In the very next over, Shan Masood also got out after scoring just one run. Things were quiet for a couple of overs with Saud Shakeel and Khurram Manzoor rotating the strike but soon Saud became the second victim of Qasim Akram. After all these fall of wickets, the scoring had stopped to some extent and pressure was building on Khurram Manzoor as well. Khurram lost his wicket to Zafar Gohar after scoring a sluggish 34 off 40 balls. Danish Aziz was dismissed for a 2 ball duck and Sindh were in all sorts of trouble.
Sohail Khan made a brisk contribution of 21(24) while Cameos by Rumman Raees (14) and Mir Hamza (19) allowed Sindh to post 141/8 on the board. The best bowler of the innings was Qasim Akram who picked 3 wickets by giving away just 15 runs. Central Punjab lost Mohammad Akhlaq early in the chase as he got out in the second over to Mir Hamza. However afterwards it was just disaster for Sindh. Ahmed Shahzad and Kamran Akmal paced the innings well and kept the scorecard ticking. Shahzad continued his brilliant form while Kamran Akmal finally got some runs under his belt. Shahzad and Akmal completed 50 run partnership of 48 balls. Kamran kept on neutralising the spin attack of Sindh and the chase was made way too easy for Central Punjab.
Kamran completed his fifty in the Semi Final after remaining out of form throughout the event. The partnership was of 88 runs before Abrar dismissed Kamran Akmal. Shahzad continued to tick the scorecard with Hussain Talat. Shahzad got to 49(46) before he was caught of a leading edge off Sohail Khan’s bowling. Still the runs remaining were way too less and hence Qasim Akram and Hussain Talat allowed Central Punjab to sail through.
Final of National T20 Cup 2021 will be played between Central Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. This will be the first ever final of Central Punjab.