Match 25 – Clinical Iftikhar leads KP to another win
Game 25 of National T20 Cup 2021 began with Iftikhar Ahmed winning the toss and deciding to bowl first. Iftikhar Ahmed was leading Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the absence of Mohammad Rizwan. Sindh was led by Anwar Ali today as Sarfaraz Ahmed was added to the World T20 Squad. Sindh didn’t have a good start as both their openers batted with a strike rate of under 100. Khurram Manzoor was run out soon after the start of the innings for just 5 runs. Sharjeel Khan tried building a partnership with Shan Masood but struggle for the major part of his innings. The stand between Sharjeel Khan and Shan Masood was of 51 runs but the pace of the innings was slow. Sharjeel got our after scoring 26(27). Soon after Sharjeel, Saud Shakeel got out for a duck to the skipper of KP. A couple of overs later, Ahsan Ali also got out cheaply. Shan Masood held one end and kept the scorecard ticking. He completed his first half century of the season with skipper Anwar Ali at the other end.
Soon after completing his fifty, Shan got caught out to Asif Afridi. Anwar Ali continued the hard work with Danish Aziz. The 39 run stand between Danish and Anwar allowed Sindh to go past 150. Sindh finished at 152/6 with Shan Masood top scoring at 54(37) while Anwar Ali played a good hand of 34(27). Iftikhar Ahmed picked 2 wickets.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also had a slow start. They lost Muhammad Haris in the 4th over. Aamer Azmat was unfortunately run out for 18(17) in the sixth over. Musaddiq Ahmed looked good for his 23(12) but he got undone by Zahid Mahmood. KP at this point were 54/3 when their skipper Iftikhar Ahmed and Sahibzada Farhan took the responsibility of finishing the chase. Farhan and Iftikhar gave the Sindh bowlers no opportunity at all. The partnership between the two batsmen was of 100 Runs. Iftikhar Ahmed finished with 55(34)* while Sahibzada Farhan scored 49(37)* and KP finished the chase with 2 overs to spare. Iftikhar Ahmed was awarded Man of the Match for his brilliant all round performance.
Match 26 – Ali Imran Shines to give Northern Commanding Victory
Balochistan collided with Northern in the final game of the day. Balochistan had some key players missing after 4 of their players tested positive for Covid-19. Northern on the other hand were missing out on their star power as those players were part of the World T20 Squad. Northern won the toss and decided to bowl first. Northern immediately regretted the decision of bowling first as both Abdul Wahid Bangalzai and Abdullah Shafique were in form. The opening stand between the two openers was of 51 runs. However Wahid only scored just 4 runs in partnership and got out to Nauman Ali. Abdullah Shafique continued to smash the Northern bowlers all around the park and completed his fifty. Skipper Imam-ul-Haq fully supported Abdullah Shafique from the other end.
Imam and Abdullah had a partnership of 63 runs when Aamer Jamal finally broke the partnership. Abdullah Shafique scored 73(44). Meanwhile Imam-ul-Haq continued ticking the scoreboard and completed his second half century. Imam was dismissed by Zaman Khan after scoring 50(39). From the other end, Sohail Akhtar, Amad Butt and Umaid Asif played good Cameos to power Balochistan to 185/7. Zaman Khan picked 3 wickets.
Northern remained dominant throughout the chase. Both Ali Imran and Nasir Nawaz were in form and displayed their form against the Balochistan bowlers. Both the openers piled up 60 runs. Nasir Nawaz was the first and only batsman to be dismissed by the Balochistan bowlers today, he was dismissed by Kashif Bhatti after scoring 30(21). Ali Imran continued the good work and complete his half century. He was supported by another young batsman from the other end, Zeeshan Malik. The 88 run stand between Zeeshan and Ali was broken by Umaid Asif. Ali Imran got caught out attempting a pull shot, he scored 64(45). Zeeshan Malik then got the support of Aamer Jamal. Zeeshan also completed his half century and Northern remained quite dominant throughout the game.
With 30 needed in the last 3 overs and with 2 inform batsmen at the middle, it looked easy for Northern to chase but Zeeshan Malik got caught right on the first ball of the 18th over. Zeeshan was dismissed by Amad Butt and skipper Umar Amin walked in next. The over started nicely for Balochistan with a wicket, but Aamer Jamal made it a good one for Northern afterwards with 2 cheeky boundaries. The final delivery of the 18th over resulted in another wicket as Umar Amin got caught and Amad managed another wicket. After this eventful over, Northern needed 20 in the last 2 overs. Rohail Nazir and Aamer Jamal were at the wicket, two men who did it in Northern’s last game against Central Punjab.
Umaid Asif began the over nicely but conceded an unlucky boundary on the next ball. On the third ball of the 19th over, Rohail Nazir was dropped and it left Balochistan disappointed. However Umaid continued the good work and didn’t conceded any run in the next 3 balls and also dismissed Aamer Jamal. With just 5 runs conceded, Northern needed 15 in the last over to win. Rohail Nazir was on strike while Junaid Khan was preferred to bowl the final over. Rohail managed a boundary right on the very first ball and it was down to 11 of 5 balls. The next ball went for just a single. Rohail was at the non strikers end and Balochistan were delighted on this, but Sohail Tanvir smashed the very next ball through the covers to manage a boundary and bring the equation down to 6 off 3. The next ball was a short one and it was a dot ball. With 6 off 2, Junaid Khan bowled a short ball and Sohail Tanvir cracked it for a six to win it for Balochistan with one ball to spare. Northern became the first side to qualify for the Semi Finals of National T20 Cup 2021.