Bahawalpur Royals win Pakistan Junior League in style
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Bahawalpur Royals saved their best for the Pakistan Junior League final when they played ruthless cricket to defeat Gwadar Sharks by 85 runs in front of over 10,000 spectators and PCB cameras at the Gaddafi Stadium on Friday evening.
Bahawalpur’s X-factor* category players Shahwaiz Irfan and Mohammad Tayyab Arif struck electrifying half-centuries to help their side score 66.66 per cent runs in boundaries to post event’s highest total of 225 for three after being put into bat. Gwadar Sharks came out all guns blazing when they raced to 103 for four in the first half of the innings before collapsing to 140 all-out in 15 overs.
It was a sweet revenge for Bahawalpur Royals who had suffered a crushing eight-wicket defeat against Gwadar Sharks in the first Qualifier on Tuesday. In the preliminary round match, 12th of the competition, Bahawalpur Royals had defeated Gwadar Sharks by eight wickets.
Lahore-born Central Punjab right-handed opener Shahwaiz, named player of the final, was in sublime form when he stroked the fastest half-century of the tournament from 16 balls on way to an eye-catching 79 from 32 balls. His blistering innings included seven fours and six sixes – most by a batter in an innings in this first-of-its kind tournament.
In the company of Dera Murad Jamali-born Basit Ali, Shahwaiz switched a 95-run first wicket partnership in 46 balls, including a record 86 for no wicket at the end of the PowerPlay overs. Basit, who finished the tournament as the top-scorer with 379 runs with one century and two half-centuries, scored 35 from 23 balls with four fours and two sixes. He was later adjudged best batter and player of the tournament.
After Momin Qamar sent both the openers in the hut in a space of 29 runs, Sialkot-born Mohammad Tayyab Arif joined forces with Afghanistan’s left-handed batter Nangeyalia Kharote to add 87 runs for the third wicket in 53 balls.
Tayyab, who notched up his maiden -half century in 29 balls, scored a 34-ball 56 with seven fours and a six, whereas Nangeyalia belted three fours and two sixes in a 30-ball 47 not out.
If Bahawalpur batters collected 124 for two in the first half of the innings, they maintained the momentum by adding 101 runs for the loss of one wicket in the second half of the innings to finish with 225 for three.
Gwadar Sharks’ run-chase was led by left-handed Shamyl Hussain, who scored a 34-ball 67 with seven fours and four sixes. However, when he became Nangeyalia Kharote’s second scalp at the total of 96 in 9.1 overs, it was the beginning of the end for the side that had topped the points table with four wins in five matches, which became five wins following Tuesday’s win.
Nangeyalia completed an all-round performance when he followed up his 47 not out with three for 32. He was well supported by Mohammad Zeeshan (three for 28) and Sajjad Ali (two for 15)
For Bahawalpur Royals mentor Imran Tahir, this was the second trophy in as many years after he had won the HBL Pakistan Super League title with Multan Sultans in Abu Dhabi in 2021.
Scores in brief
Final – Bahawalpur Royals beat Gwadar Sharks by 85 runs
Bahawalpur Royal 225-3, 20 overs (Shahwaiz Irfan 79, Mohammad Tayyab Arif 56, Nangeyalia Kharote 47 not out, Basit Ali 35; Momin Qamar 2-34)
Gwadar Sharks 140 all out, 15 overs (Shamyl Hussain 67, Danial Ibrahim 19 not out, Arafat Minhas 19; Mohammad Zeeshan 3-28; Nangeyalia Kharote 3-32, Sajjad Ali 2-15)
Player of the final - Shahwaiz Irfan (Bahawalpur Royals)
Player of the tournament – Basit Ali (Bahawalpur Royals)
Best batter – Basit Ali (Bahawalpur Royals)
Best bowler – Mohammad Zeeshan (Bahawalpur Royals)
Best all-rounder – Arafat Minhas (Gwadar Sharks)
Best Fielder: Arham Nawab (Bahawalpur Royals).