KARACHI: Favourites Sialkot Stallions romped to a dramatic five-wicket win over Lahore Eagles in their Faysal Bank Super-Eight T20 tournament match yesterday in Rawalpindi.
Sialkot, the strongest team in Pakistan’s Twenty20 history, stumbled while chasing 130 to win their first match but Shahid Yousuf’s 14-ball 27 with Ali Khan’s supporting 18 took them home.
Earlier, Eagles could only manage 129 courtesy a late rally by all-rounder Saad Nasim. Twenty20 debutant Bilawal Bhatti, touted as a future prospect for Pakistan, impressed with three wickets while Raza Hasan bagged two. With 12 needed off the final two overs, Eagles’ captain Taufeeq Umar shocked everyone by bringing on Imran Farhat to bowl ahead of better options, with the opener being smashed for 15 runs that sealed the win.
Lions finish off Zebras
In Sunday’s late match, Lahore Lions roared to a comfortable six-wicket victory over Karachi Zebras after a sloppy show in the field and an explosive show by Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal.
Set a target of 136, Shehzad and Umar put on 83 runs for the third-wicket to guide their side to victory with 13 balls to spare. Shehzad started from where he left off in the Bangladesh Premier League, scoring an impressive 52-ball 60 while Umar hammered 43 off just 26 balls.
“I’ve been in good touch and want to carry on with my Bangladesh form in order to prove that I have become a consistent performer who can help his team to victory,” Shehzad told The Express Tribune. “I am hoping to become the best batsman in this event as well.”
Shehzad termed Rawalpindi’s pitches double paced but hoped that they would improve as the tournament progressed.
Players unhappy over scheduling
Several members of Pakistan’s Asia Cup winning squad have criticised poor scheduling of the event after they were forced to take part in the Twenty20 tournament straight after their return from Bangladesh.
Apart from Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez – who have opted out of the event – others, who have not been able to get a break with a hectic international calendar, were annoyed at the timing of the event.
“It’s really bizarre that you come back home after so long and then you are required to turn up for a domestic event,” a player told The Express Tribune. “We’re also humans and would like to spend time with our family. It is not easy to remain away from home no matter how professional you try to be. How would an athlete perform to best of his abilities when he is mentally and physically drained out?”
Meanwhile, a Pakistan Cricket Board official confirmed that the board ‘made it mandatory for all national players to be part of this event because it raises the competition’s level’.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 27th, 2012.