Match 17 – Northern Narrowly escapes with the win against KP
The game 17 of the National T20 Cup 2021 was between the 2nd and 3rd ranked side on the points table. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa won the toss and decided to bowl first against Northern. A phenomenal opening spell by star bowler Shaheen Afridi left Northern stunned. Shaheen picked 2 wickets in first 4 balls to put KP in the driving seat. Ali Imran and inform batsman Haider Ali were undone by Shaheen’s lovely swing bowling. With 1/2 in the first over, Northern were in all sorts of trouble but Nasir Nawaz and Umar Amin started rebuilding the innings.
The progress was slow but with 2 wickets down, it was necessary to spend some time at the middle. Nasir and Umar put up a partnership of 52 runs to rescue Northern. However Umar and Nasir both got out in consecutive overs and Northern were once again in a disastrous situation. The biggest partnership of the innings was between the vice captain and captain of Northern, Nawaz and Shadab. Inform Mohammad Nawaz smashed yet another half century, while skipper Shadab Khan struck blistering 46 of just 27 balls. This partnership was of 89 runs and it made sure that Northern smash a competitive score on board. Asif Ali provided a great finish scoring 21(11) as Northern finished with 181 on board.
KP once again started the chase slowly. Their skipper seemed to be struggling. The opening stand was of 39 runs but KP lost wickets regularly. Rizwan, Israrullah and Sahibzada Farhan, all got the starts but couldn’t cash in on the starts to play a big innings. With 64/3 on board, Iftikhar Ahmed and Asif Afridi showed great intent and kept KP in the game. Iftikhar completed an electrifying fifty while Asif Afridi supported him. The 45 run stand between the two kept KP in the game. After the dismissal of Asif Afridi, Musaddiq Ahmed and Adil Amin got out for single digit scores and there was noone to support Iftikhar Ahmed. Iftikhar Ahmed got out for 58, his wicket was taken by Haris Rauf. KP managed 167 in their 20 overs and Northern escaped with a 14 run victory. For his half century and 2 wickets, Mohammad Nawaz was awarded Man of the Match.
Match 18 – Central Punjab crush Southern Punjab to yet another defeat
The Punjabi clash began with Babar Azam Men deciding to bowl first against the down and out Southern Punjab. Southern Punjab suffered great initial blows as both of their openers returned to the pavilion without scoring. The returning Faheem Ashraf was responsible for the wreckage. Agha Salman and Azam Khan batted for almost 11 overs to rescue their side from disaster. Agha Salman managed 40(29) while Azam Khan was slow and steady for his 45(41). This 84 run stand was broken by Hasan Ali. Soon, Azam Khan also ran himself out and the collapse began once again for Southern Punjab.Apart from Azam Khan and Agha Salman, no batsmen of Southern Punjab can enter the double figures. Hasan Ali and Faheem Ashraf continued to pick wickets as the entire Southern Punjab side was bundled out for just 119. Hasan Ali picked 4 wickets while Faheem Ashraf managed 3 wickets.
Central Punjab lost Ahmed Shahzad early in the 2nd over. Naseem Shah trapped him LBW. Kamran Akmal and Babar Azam put a partnership of 63 runs to ease the chase for Central Punjab. Kamran Akmal was dismissed by Mohammad Ilyas but the chase was just too easy for Central Punjab. Skipper Babar Azam continued piling up the runs and in the process he completed his 7000 T20 Runs. Qasim Akram also got out cheaply as he was stumped by Azam Khan off Hassan Khan. Hussain Talat supported the skipper to finish the chase as Central Punjab won the game by 7 wickets.