Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh complete Rawalpindi leg on winning note
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Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s extraordinary run in the Kingdom Valley National T20 Cup 2022-23 continued as they completed the Rawalpindi leg of the tournament on Wednesday with five wins from as many matches. Mohammad Sarwar Afridi’s whirlwind 38 not out helped Khyber Pakhtunkhwa put the first 200-plus score of this year’s edition. Balochistan fell 27 runs short of the 202-run target.
Saim Ayub’s half-century scripted Sindh’s six-wicket win over Southern Punjab in the second match of the day. This is Sindh’s third win of the tournament.
The action now moves to Multan from 10 September. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the winners of the last two editions, sit comfortably at the top of the points table with 10 points. Balochistan follow them with six points. Sindh, locked with Balochistan on points, are third, while Northern and Southern Punjab are fourth and fifth. Central Punjab, who could manage only one win in five matches, are languishing at the bottom.
Sarwar Afridi’s swashbuckling 11-ball 38 not out stuns Balochistan
While Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s perfect title defence continued, they also recorded the first 200-plus score of the tournament, thanks to a scintillating 38 not out in just 11 balls by Mohammad Sarwar Afridi.
Sarwar spanked three sixes and smashed four fours to lift Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to 201 for five after his captain Khalid Usman elected to bat. Aamer Azmat, who made 13-ball 22 not out, duly supported him, as the two added 49 runs in the last 19 balls.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, despite losing Mohammad Haris in the first over, were provided a solid start from Sahibzada Farhan (48 off 33) and Kamran Ghulam (57 off 38) with an 84-run second wicket stand.
Farhan struck seven fours and Kamran’s destructive half-century was studded with four sixes and as many fours.
When it came to defending the towering target, pacers Mohammad Imran and Imran Khan Snr provided their side regular breakthroughs as Balochistan were bowled out for 174 with seven balls spare.
Mohammad Imran finished with four for 28 and Imran Khan Snr returned two for 29. Sarwar made his presence felt in the second innings as well with two wickets, however, he was a touch expensive leaking 43 runs in four overs.
Balochistan captain Yasir Shah and Haris Sohail scored 44 off 27 and 39 off 19. All-rounder Hussain Talat and Kashif Bhatti made 24 each, off 17 and nine balls, respectively, but Balochistan never fully recovered from the top order collapse with Asad Shafiq, Abdul Wahid Bangalzai and Haseebullah falling inside 14 balls.
Saim Ayub guides Sindh to third win
Left-handed opener Saim Ayub played a brilliant knock of 56 in Sindh’s six-wicket win over Southern Punjab. Saim struck seven fours and two sixes and provided a solid start to the run chase with Sharjeel Khan, who blasted 49 in 26 balls (four fours and four sixes).
The pair added 83 runs for the first wicket before Omair Bin Yousuf’s 54 not out in 35 balls (four fours and two sixes) ensured Sindh retained the momentum and overhauled the 176-run target with four balls spare.
Southern Punjab, after being asked to bat, made 175 for six at the back of 48 each from opener Zain Abbas and all-rounder Hassan Khan. While Zain’s 48 took 34 balls and included five fours and a six, Hassan stroked his unbeaten 48 in just 29 balls and smashed two sixes and as many fours.
Mohammad Ilyas, once again, displayed his power-hitting abilities, smashing two sixes and two fours in his 11-ball 25 not out.
Southern Punjab found themselves in a spot of bother when Abrar Ahmed’s leg-spin sent Mohammad Shehzad and Salman Ali Agha back to the pavilion in the seventh over with the scorecard reading 42 for three.
Zain held one end and got the support from Sharoon Siraj, who made 23 off 17, before Hassan lifted Southern Punjab to 175.
Scores in brief:
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa beat Balochistan by 27 runs
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 201-5, 20 overs (Kamran Ghulam 57, Sahibzada Farhan 48, Mohammad Sarwar Afridi 38 not out, Aamer Azmat 22 not out; Haris Sohail 2-10, Kashif Bhatti 2-25)
Balochistna 174 all out, 18.5 overs (Yasir Shah 44, Haris Sohail 39, Kashif Bhatti 24, Hussain Talat 24; Mohammad Imran 4-28, Imran Khan Snr 2-29)
Player of the match – Mohammad Sarwar Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa)
Sindh beat Southern Punjab by 6 wickets
Southern Punjab 175-6, 20 overs (Hassan Khan 48 not out, Zain Abbas 48, Mohammad Ilyas 25 not out, Sharoon Siraj 23; Abrar Ahmed 3-30)
Sindh 181-4, 19.2 overs (Saim Ayub 56, Omair Bin Yousuf 54 not out, Sharjeel Khan 49; Hassan Khan 2-21)
Player of the match – Saim Ayub (Sindh).