National T20 Cup: In the first semi-final of the National T20 Cup, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa defeated Northern by 5 wickets at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
Sahibzada Farhan’s steady half-century and a devastating 45 not out at a remarkable strike rate of 265 ensure Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s place in the finals on Wednesday.
Northern had a strong start, allowing only 4 singles in the first five overs and dismissing Nabi Gul in the 16th over.
Iftikhar Ahmed elected to take the charge in the 18th over, with his side leading by 40 runs. He hammered Zaman for two sixes in an over, bringing the total to 17 runs.
The match was decided in the penultimate over, when the right-hander smashed Salman Irshad for three boundaries and a massive 6 overs mid-wicket, leaving only one run for the final over, which Khalid Usman overcame with a soaring 6 on the first ball.
In the innings, Iftikhar hit four boundaries and three sixes. He’s hit 22 sixes in this tournament (the highest by any batter) and has a strike rate of 164, the best among batters with more than 200 runs. The basis for the successful overhauling of 157 was built by Sahibzada Farhan’s third half-century of the competition. He also leads the tournament in runs scored with 421 at a 42.10 average.
He established a 57-run partnership with fellow opener Musadiq Ahmed (7 off 15) before the latter was caught on the penultimate ball of the 8th over. In the first over of his bat, Sahibzada smashed Sohail for three boundaries. Northern, on the other hand, did a good job of containing the pair for the next 5 overs, during which Sahibzada and Musadiq could only add 26 runs.
The following ball after Musadiq’s departure, Sahibzada caressed Anwar Jamal for a 4 through extra cover, bringing up his half-century. He hit seven boundaries and a six in his 39-ball stay, scoring 53 runs before holding out to long-on off Nauman Ali, who was the most economical bowler for his team once again, taking one for 17 off four overs.
Kamran Ghulam, who hit a stunning 110 not out last night, made 29 balls 35 runs, including six boundaries.
All four bowlers — Sohail, Zaman, Salman, and Aamer Jamal – took a wicket each, much like Nauman.
Despite a good 48-run partnership for the first wicket between Nasir Nawaz (27 off 18) and Ali Imran (run-a-ball 24), Iftikhar’s decision to introduce Northern paid off as the Umar Amin-captained side posted 156 for 8.
Nasir was dismissed the first ball after powerplay by Khalid Usman, and a caught and bowled by Iftikhar in the next over – which ended Ali’s tenure at the crease – compounded the situation.
Umar (22 off 18) and Zeeshan Malik (29 off 21) put on a 44-run stand to get the Northern innings back on track.
However, they were both dismissed in the space of six deliveries, with the former being caught by Imran Khan Snr and the latter being run out, leaving the batting side 4 down at 104 with 5.5 overs to go.
There was some pyrotechnics near the end of the innings, with Sohail hitting two sixes, but Arshad Iqbal of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa quickly made his presence felt by dismissing Sohail, Aamer Jamal, and Nauman Ali.