RAWALPINDI: Southern Punjab beat Sindh by a big 70-run margin on Thursday to give themselves a chance of reaching the semi-finals of the National T20 Cup here at the Pindi Stadium.
This was Southern Punjab’s only third win in the tournament. They have six points from nine games. The teams just above them on eight points each are Balochistan and Central Punjab after playing nine and 10 matches, respectively.
That means the last league stage match between Southern Punjab and Balochistan will decide who would join Northern, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh in the last-four stage.
In the second match on Thursday, Sindh were bundled out for just 121 in the 17th over in their pursuit of a victory target of 192.
Southern Punjab owed the win to Sohaib Maqsood (67) and Khushdil Shah (53), both of whom put on a display of some powerful hitting.
The two came together when Southern Punjab were struggling at 8-3. They lifted their team’s fortunes by taking the score to 129 by the end of the 14th over. That was when Khushdil lost his wicket but not before playing another gem of an innings. His 32-ball half-century was studded with three sixes and five fours.
Man-of-the-Match Sohaib departed soon. His 41-ball innings contained four sixes and six fours.
Southern Punjab ended their 20 overs on 191-6.
Sindh’s chase got off to a poor start as Sharjeel Khan (1) and Saud Shakeel (13) perished cheaply followed by the big loss of the duo of Azam Khan (14) and captain Sarfaraz Ahmed (8).
Sindh crashed to 93-6 in the 13th over as Khurram Manzoor, who had kept one end intact, got run out for 49 off 35 balls (seven fours).
Hassan Khan, who had helped Sindh chase down two targets in Rawalpindi, fell for a duck to Zahid Mahmood in the same over. Zahid had earlier dismissed Azam and Sarfaraz in what turned out to be a match-winning spell of 3-20 in four top-quality overs of leg-spin bowling.
Danish Aziz, who had been in rich batting form, fell to Mohammad Ilyas as Sindh’s chase fell away, the left-hander looked off-color in his nine-run innings that consumed 11 balls. The Sindh tail also failed to wag.
Ilyas provided great support to Zahid, taking three wickets for 25 runs in 3.4 overs.
Sindh finished their 10-match league round with an even win and loss record which earned them 10 points.
Scores in brief: Southern Punjab 191-6 in 20 overs (Sohaib Maqsood 67, Khushdil Shah 53, Aamer Yamin 24; Danish Aziz 3-32, Sohail Khan 2-16). Sindh 121 all out in 16.4 overs (Khurram Manzoor 49; Zahid Mahmood 3-20, Mohammad Ilyas 3-20). Result: Southern Punjab won by 70 runs. Man of the Match: Sohaib Maqsood (Southern Punjab).