KARACHI: Islamabad cantered to a comfortable five-wicket win over Lahore Blues in the side’s sixth National T20 Cup fixture at the Multan Cricket Stadium yesterday.
Lahore Blues opted to bat first but never really got going as the Islamabad bowlers applied a stranglehold on proceedings, giving away just 119 runs in 20 overs. Muhammad Abbas and Muhammad Irfan Junior were the standout bowlers, claiming two wickets apiece and giving away a miserly 18 and 19 runs respectively in their quota of four overs each.
Chasing a simple run-a-ball target of 120, Islamabad made 123-5 with five balls to spare. Test opener Sami Aslam was an early casualty but a 66-run stand between Afaq Raheem (41 off 38 balls) and Abid Ali (46 off 41 balls) helped guide Islamabad through, despite a late mini-collapse that saw them lose three wickets in six balls for two runs.
“It is a good victory — our second in the tournament, and if we keep up this performance and other top teams lose, then we can make it to the next stage,” said Zohaib Ahmed.
Man-of-the-match Abid Ali, meanwhile, added: “I was unlucky not to complete my half-century, but I’m glad that my runs helped the team win the match. I tried to focus on the ball and kept on rotating the strike but unfortunately got run out.”
Peshawar finally defeated
In the late match on Thursday, two-time defending champions Peshawar were handed their first defeat of the tournament against Karachi Blues as last year’s final rematch ended up being a nail biter that the Karachi side edged out by three runs.
Choosing to bat first, Karachi Blues posted a total of 164-6 as man-of-the-match Fazal Subhan scored an attacking 53 off 34 balls.
Peshawar were once again afforded a good start by openers Rafatullah Mohmand (34) and Israrullah (21) but Karachi Blues’ bowlers pulled it back from 117-3 to 153-7.
“This was a close match, Peshawar are big team and we are the first team to defeat them in the tournament,” Raees, who has been called up to the Pakistan T20I squad, told The Express Tribune. “I was asked to bowl the pivotal last over with Anwar Ali on the other end so I am glad I managed to get us through. This victory will help us reach the semi-finals.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 10th, 2016.
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