National T20 Cup: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa defeats Northern | 1st Semi-Final
National T20 Cup: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa defeated Northern by 5 wickets in the 1st semi-final of the National T20 Cup at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore.
A steady half-century by Sahibzada Farhan and a destructive 45 not out at a staggering strike rate of 265 takes Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the finals on Wednesday.
Defending 50 off the last 5, Northern had an impressive start as Zaman Khan leaked mere 4 singles and dismissed Nabi Gul in the 16th over.
In the 18th over Iftikhar Ahmed decided to take the charge with his side 40 runs away. He smashed Zaman for 2 sixes in an over, which added 17 runs to the total.
The match was settled in the penultimate over, as the right-hander, who had struck a thunderous 26 balls 54 not out last night against the same opposition in the final group match, smoked Salman Irshad for 3 boundaries and a gigantic 6 overs mid-wicket to leave only single run for the final over, which Khalid Usman overhauled with a towering 6 on the 1st ball.
Iftikhar spanked 4 boundaries and 3 sixes in the innings. In this tournament, he has smashed 22 sixes (the most by any batter) and has a strike rate of 164, which is the best for the batters with more than 200 runs.
It was Sahibzada Farhan’s 3rd half-century of the tournament that had laid the foundation for the successful overhauling of 157. He is also the leading run-getter in the tournament with 421 at an average of 42.10 – led the 57-run alliance with fellow opener Musadiq Ahmed (7 off 15) before the latter handed an easy catch on the penultimate ball of the 8th over.
Sahibzada started his innings by smashing Sohail for 3 boundaries in the opening over. Northern, however, did well to tame the pair for the next 5 overs in which Sahibzada and Musadiq could add only 26 runs.
Sahibzada brought up his half-century the next ball after Musadiq’s dismissal as he caressed Anwar Jamal for a 4 through extra cover. He clubbed 7 boundaries and a six in his 39 balls stay, over which he scored 53 before he holed out to long-on off Nauman Ali, who once again was the most economical bowler from his side with one for 17 off 4 overs.
Kamran Ghulam, who smashed a brilliant 110 not out last night, made 29 balls 35, studded with 6 boundaries.
Like Nauman, all other 4 bowlers – Sohail, Zaman, Salman and Aamer Jamal – picked up a wicket each.
Iftikhar’s call to insert Northern paid dividends as, despite a solid 48 runs alliance for the first wicket between Nasir Nawaz (27 off 18) and Ali Imran (run-a-ball 24), the Umar Amin-captained side put 156 for 8 on board.
The dismissal of Nasir – first ball after powerplay – off Khalid Usman broke the momentum and a caught and bowled by Iftikhar in the next over – that curtailed Ali’s stay at the crease – aggravated the situation.
A 44 runs stand between Umar (22 off 18) and Zeeshan Malik (29 off 21) promised to put the Northern innings back on track, but their dismissals in the span of 6 balls – the former getting caught off Imran Khan Snr and the latter getting run out – left the batting side 4 down at 104 with 5.5 overs remaining.
There were a few fireworks towards the end of the innings with Sohail spanking 2 sixes, but Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Arshad Iqbal soon made his presence felt by dismissing Sohail, Aamer Jamal and Nauman Ali.
The right-arm pacer returned 3 for 35.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will face the winners of the 2nd semi-final between Central Punjab and Sindh.
Northern 156-8, 20 overs (Zeeshan Malik 29, Nasir Nawaz 27, Ali Imran 24, Umar Amin 22; Arshad Iqbal 3-35)
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 161-5, 19.1 overs (Sahibzada Farhan 53, Iftikhar Ahmed 45 not out, Kamran Ghulam 35)
Player of the match – Iftikhar Ahmed (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa)
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