KARACHI: Southern Punjab seemed to have struck a roadblock in the First XI competition of the National T20 Cup as they suffered their fourth defeat on the trot while going down by 16 runs against Balochistan in Multan on Sunday.
After being denied by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in a riveting contest at the Multan Cricket Stadium late on Saturday night, Shan Masood’s charges endured another disappointing outing when they failed to overhaul Balochistan’s imposing tally of 230-4 after Haris Sohail opted to bat first.
Haris and opener Imam-ul-Haq punished a rather pedestrian bowling to set the platform for their side. Imam hit top form after a brace of low scores in the tournament as the left-handed opener bludgeoned a career-best 94 off just 54 balls.
Imam was involved in two decisive partnerships with Bismillah Khan and Haris. The first one yielded 80 for the second wicket with Bismillah (39 off 23 balls, three fours and two sixes) before the Imam — who slammed 10 boundaries and four sixes — fellow left-hander Haris put on 97.
The skipper was equally in belligerent mood as the thrashed his way to a 27-ball 53 that included seven fours and two sixes. All-rounder Amad Butt hoisted two sixes in making a seven-ball 22 without being dismissed but he saw man-of-the-match Imam tragically run out in the final over.
Southern Punjab’s reply featured a brace of 72s from the bats of captain Shan Masood (42 balls, nine fours and three sixes) and Khushdil Shah, the young left-hander who smashed seven fours and four sixes, as the pair added 103 for the third wicket.
But once both departed to the emerging left-arm paceman Akif Javed (3-35 in four overs), the rest never threatened to stop Balochistan from registering their second triumph in three matches as they finished on 214-6.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in the meantime, had to withstand a late onslaught from young Saif Badar before sealing a narrow by only six runs the other night. Saif, who made an unbeaten 22, took advantage of a couple of full-toss deliveries from Mohammad Hafeez as the seamed Pakistan all-rounder conceded 15 runs in the last over of the game.
Pakistan discard Sohaib Maqsood had given Khyber Pakhtunkhwa a big scare as the tall righter blazed his way to 77 off just 40 balls with the aid of six fours and five sixes. Veteran fast bowler Wahab Riaz put an end to his heroics when another attempt to hit over the top was aborted in the 17th over.
Chasing 201, Southern Punjab closed out at 194-8 despite Sohaib and Hussain Talat (38 off 22 balls, six boundaries) sharing a fourth-wicket stand worth 88. Junaid Khan took the bowling honours with figures of three wickets for 26 runs in his four overs.
Earlier, skipper Mohammad Rizwan (55 off 39, six fours and two sixes) and Hafeez (67 off 35, five sixes and five fours) launched a perfect platform during a second-wicket partnership of 100 in 55 deliveries.
Iftikhar Ahmed ensured Khyber Pakhtunkhwa post 200-5 in their stipulated quota of overs by bludgeoning three sixes and as many fours in an undefeated 20-ball cameo of 45.
Scores in brief:
Played on Sunday:
Balochistan beat Southern Punjab by 16 runs.
BALOCHISTAN 230-4 in 20 overs (Imam-ul-Haq 94, Haris Sohail 53, Bismillah Khan 39, Amad Butt 22 not out); SOUTHERN PUNJAB 214-6 in 20 overs (Shan Masood 72, Khushdil Shah 72, Sohaib Maqsood 20; Akif Javed 35).
Played on Saturday night:
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa beat Southern Punjab by six runs.
KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA 200-5 in 20 overs (Mohammad Hafeez 67, Mohammad Rizwan 55, Iftikhar Ahmed 45 not out; Rahat Ali 2-37, Hussain Talat 2-38); SOUTHERN PUNJAB 194-8 in 20 overs (Sohaib Maqsood 77, Hussain Talat 38, Saif Badar 22 not out; Junaid Khan 3-26).
Second XI summary on Sunday:
Southern Punjab beat Central Punjab by eight wickets.
CENTRAL PUNJAB 123-7 in 20 overs (Mohammad Akhlaq 50 not out; Mohammad Irfan 2-15, Dilbar Hussain 2-29); SOUTHERN PUNJAB 125-2 in 17.1 overs (Zain Abbas 42 not out, Tayyab Tahir 32, Salman Ali 24 not out).
Sindh beat Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by four wickets.
KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA 125-8 in 20 overs (Mohammad Sarwar 43, Sajid Khan 25 not out; Tabish Khan 4-25, Fawad Alam 3-16); SINDH 126-6 in 19.1 overs (Mohammad Salman 27, Ammad Alam 26; Mohammad Sarwar 4-20).
First XI: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa vs Sindh (3:00pm); Balochistan vs Central Punjab ((7:30pm).
Second XI: Sindh vs Northern (9:30am); Central Punjab vs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (1:30pm).