Hafeez, Zahid put Southern Punjab in National T20 semi-finals

Hafeez, Zahid put Southern Punjab in National T20 semi-finals

KARACHI: Spinners Mohammad Hafeez and Zahid Mehmood put Southern Punjab in the semi-finals when they defeated Sindh by 34 runs in their final league fixture of the National T20 Cup 2019-2020 at Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad, on Monday.

In the day-nighter, Hafeez (4-24) and Zahid (4-21) bowled excellently to enable Southern Punjab to dismiss Sindh for only 114 in 17.4 overs while chasing 149. Sarfraz Ahmed scored 47.

Earlier, Wahab Riaz (41) and Shoaib Malik (38) shepherded Southern Punjab to 148-9. Sohail Khan and Anwar Ali did the damage by sharing seven wickets between them.

After opting to bat first, Southern Punjab had a poor start as Test pacer Sohail Khan blew their top order within no time. He removed openers Shan Masood (0) and Mohammad Hafeez (0) for first-ball ducks before sending back Sohaib Maqsood for an eight-ball duck inside seven deliveries. However, at that stage Wahab Riaz, who was promoted in the batting order, shared 73 runs for the fourth wicket with Shoaib Malik (38) to revive the innings. Wahab, who was removed by spinner Kashif Bhatti, hammered two sixes and three fours in his 30-ball knock.

Malik, a former Pakistan captain, batted rather slowly, smacking one six and three fours from 41 deliveries.

When Kashif gave the much-needed breakthrough to Sindh by getting the wicket of Wahab, Southern Punjab suffered another collapse. International all-rounder Anwar Ali removed Saif Badar (4), Umar Siddiq (0) and Shoaib to leave Shan Masood’s side reeling at 105-7 in 16.3 overs.

Aamer Yamin (27) and Bilawal Bhatti (24) used long handles to take their side to a good total. Yamin, who has represented Pakistan in four one-dayers and two T20s, hammered two sixes and one four from 19 deliveries. Bilawal smashed one six and two fours from just 14 balls. Kashif, who was on Monday picked in Pakistan’s Test squad for Australia tour, remained the most expensive bowler as he picked 2-55 in four overs.

Sindh had a poor start when they lost their openers Khurram Manzoor (2) and Ahsan Ali (1) cheaply. Skipper Asad Shafiq (25) and wicket-keeper batsman Sarfraz Ahmed (45) added 63 for the third wicket to help their side stay alive in the contest.

Former Pakistan captain Hafeez broke the partnership when he dismissed Asad, who hammered three fours in his run-a-ball knock.

After Asad’s departure, Sindh kept losing wickets at regular intervals and were folded for 114 in 17.4 overs. Sarfraz, who fell in the 16th over, smashed one six and three fours from 37 balls. The win enabled Southern Punjab (5 points) to join Balochistan and Northern in the semi-finals.

Tuesday’s match between Central Punjab (3 points) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (2 points) will decide the fourth semi-finalists. Sindh finished with four points.

In another game on Tuesday (today), Northern will meet Balochistan which will also decide the league stage winners as both the outfits have six points. Tariq Rasheed and Mohammad Sajid supervised the match. Asif Yaqoob was the television umpire and Aziz-ur-Rehman the match referee.

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