Northern 140 for 4 (Haider 58*, Asif 43*) beat Balochistan 139 for 7 (Amad Butt 34, Rauf 2-18, Nawaz 2-31) by six wickets
Haider Ali put himself back in the spotlight by smacking a 28-ball fifty to set up Northern’s emphatic six-wicket victory over Balochistan in the opening game of the National T20 Cup in Rawalpindi. His knock, however, was overshadowed by Asif Ali‘s unbeaten 43 off 20 balls, which hurried Northern to their target of 140 with 18 balls to spare.
Northern were 14-1 when Haider walked in, and he got off the mark with a first-ball boundary before smoking back-to-back sixes off Amad Butt to stamp his authority. He remained unbeaten at the finish, having hit seven fours and two sixes and registered his first half-century since February. Since then, he had only passed 20 three times in 19 innings across the PSL, international matches for Pakistan and the CPL.
Northern needed 51 off 51 balls when Asif came in, and he survived an early chance when he was put down by Kashif Bhatti on 3. He never looked back thereafter, hitting four sixes and three fours to see his side home with ease.
Having opted to bat first, Balochistan were reeling at 70 for 5 before Amad Butt (34 off 24) and Kashif Bhatti (24 off 25) added 66 to push them to a reasonable total. Both were taken down in a furious final over from Haris Rauf, who clocked 150 kph and ended with figures of 2 for 18. Mohammad Nawaz picked up two wickets as well.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 187 for 5 (Rizwan 65, Iftikhar 40*, Hasan 3-30) beat Central Punjab 151 for 9 (Akhlaq 62, Shaheen 3-25, Arshad 2-14, Imran 2-37) by 36 runs
Defending champions Khyber Pakhtunkhwa made a strong start to their campaign by overwhelming a star-studded Central Punjab side by 36 runs. The victory was set up by sizzling knocks from Mohammad Rizwan (65 off 40) and Iftikhar Ahmed (40* off 25), who propelled KP to a total of 187, which was defended impeccably by the pace pack led by Shaheen Shah Afridi (3-25)
After KP were put in to bat, Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman laid a solid foundation with an opening partnership of 67 in 7.3 overs. Rizwan then added 45 with Adil Amin before both fell in quick succession to leave KP 119 for 3 in 12.4 overs. Iftikhar walked in at this point and ensured the innings remained on track, smacking six fours and a six to apply the finishing touches alongside Mohammad Wasim, who made 11 off 7 balls. Hasan Ali was the only bowler to threaten KP’s progress, picking up three wickets including that of Rizwan, and conceding 30 from his four overs.
At the halfway point of their chase, Central Punjab were behind the asking rate at 71 for 3 despite the efforts of Babar Azam (29 off 22) and Ahmed Shehzad (24 off 16). Needing nearly 12 an over in the last 10 overs, Central Punjab couldn’t find the push they needed, with no one able to provide Muhammad Akhlaq the support he needed while he scored 62 off 35 balls, with the help of six fours and four sixes. Shaheen’s three wickets included those of Akhlaq and Faheem Ashraf, while Imran Khan and Arshad Iqbal picked up two wickets apiece.
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