Raiders outplay Royals to confirm PJL playoffs berth
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Rawalpindi Raiders joined Gwadar Sharks, Mardan Warriors and their Saturday night opponents Bahawalpur Royals in the Pakistan Junior League playoffs with a convincing 23-run victory (against the Royals) in the 14th match of the tournament at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore.
The Colin Munro-mentored side produced a stellar all-round performance to defeat the table-toppers in front of a sizeable crowd that gathered at the venue to witness the crucial clash.
Sunday’s single-header between the Warriors and Sharks (final group stage clash) will determine the final team standings. Heading into the game all four playoff qualifiers’ are in the top-two finish race with Royals favourites to earn one of the two spots. The top two sides will play the Qualifier 1 on Tuesday while the third and fourth placed sides will compete in the Eliminator on Wednesday.
Royals started their 164-run chase in a positive manner through their in-form opening pair of Basit Ali and Tayyab Arif. Basit who is the tournament’s leading run-scorer, played a series of dazzling shots in his 44 off 32 balls.
The right-hander looked in superb touch once again as he smashed eight boundaries, he though fell to an ungainly shot that he failed to connect, left-arm-spinner Ziaullah (player of the match) took the prized wicket for the Raiders.
Next ball (first of the ninth over) Tayyab (26 off 23 balls, three fours) returned to the dugout, the right-hander was bowled by Aseer Mughal as Raiders clawed back in the contest. The openers fell with the score at 71.
Farhan Yousaf (1) and Ali Razzaq (5) fell in quick succession to leave the Royals reeling at 82 for four – from 71 for no loss they lost four wickets for the addition of 11 runs.
Aseer (3-19) ran through the Royals batting, after removing Tayyab and Razzaq, he got rid of Sajjad Ali (3), Sajjad’s dismissal meant the Royals had stuttered to 94 for five (13.1 overs). Amongst the middle-order batters, Mohammad Danish fought a lone battle for the Royals with 30 off 19 balls (four fours). The Raiders produced a dazzling fielding display to run out three Royals batters.
Royals finished their 20 overs at 140 for nine.
Earlier, Royals asked Raiders to bat first after winning the toss. Raiders’ openers provided their side a brisk start. Captain Habibullah who scored a half-century in his side’s loss to Gujranwala Giants yesterday played some sublime shots in his 36 off 23 balls (four fours, two sixes). Habibullah had an unfortunate mix-up with his partner Hassan Eisakhil which caused his dismissal with the Raiders at 67 in 7.2 overs.
Royals roared back in contention as their tall pacer Mohammad Zeeshan castled Hassan five balls later. Hassan hit five fours in his 30 off 26 balls. Raiders endured a mid-innings slump as Haroon Arshad (4), Aseer (2) and Charlie Tear (8) fell cheaply. Zeeshan and left-armer Nathan Edward did the damage by running through the Raiders middle-order.
Arham Nawab then led from the front as he removed the dangerous Ali Ishaq (30) and Afnan Khan (0) off the last two balls of the 17th over to leave the Raiders reeling at 126 for 7.
The last three overs brought the Raiders back in the hunt. Wahaj Riaz and Ziaullah added 37 runs for the unbroken eight-wicket partnership. Wahaj hit three fours in his unbeaten 20 off 13 balls. Ziaullah hit four fours in his 23 not out (10 balls).
The pair combined to lift the Raiders in what turned out to be a match winning score of 163 for seven. Zeeshan, Arham and Edward took two wickets apiece for the Royals.
Scores in brief
Match 14 Rawalpindi Raiders beat Bahawalpur Royals by 23 runs
Rawalpindi Raiders 163-7, 20 overs (Habibullah 36, Hassan Eisakhil 30, Ali Ishaq 30; Mohmmad Zeeshan 2-20, Nathan Edward 2-24, Arham Nawab 2-24)
Bahawalpur Royals 140-9, 20 overs (Basit Ali 44, Mohammad Danish 30, Mohammad Tayyab Arif 26; Aseer Mughal 3-19, Ziaullah 2-31)
Player of the match: Ziaullah (Rawalpindi Raiders)