KARACHI: Shoaib Akhtar ripped through the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Panthers’ batting line-up with figures of six for 52 to give the Federal Areas Leopards a 77-run victory in the RBS Pentangular One Day Cup at the National Stadium Karachi. Federal Areas, who scored 305 batting first, bowled out Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa for 228 in the penultimate over to register their second consecutive win in the domestic tournament.
Akhtar, eyeing a comeback to the national squad for the summer series in England, picked up his first wicket off only the fourth ball of the innings after being hit for successive fours of the previous three. Imran Nazir, overlooked for the World Twenty20, was clean bowled before the fast-bowler dismissed Rafatullah Mohmand in the fifth over to reduce the Panthers to 22 for two. Wickets continued to fall at regular intervals as the brief resistance the batsmen put up was not enough to chase down the formidable target. Shehzad Azam picked up a brace to dent the middle-order as Ahmed Said (41) and Zohaib Khan (47 ) tried to revive the innings. But after Akhtar bowled Said to pick up his third wicket, it was all but over for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The paceman cleaned up the tail with another three wickets to finish with six for the game. Earlier, Federal Areas had set a competitive total with almost all batsmen making significant contributions. Raheel Majeed (56) was off to a flyer though he lost his opening partner Umair Khan at the score of 27. However, Majeed continued with Umair Amin (50) and added 65 for the second wicket but Khalid Usman finally ended Majeed’s onslaught when he had the 26-year-old spoon a catch to Yasir Hameed. Skipper Bazid Khan was the next man to walk in and put on a 31-run partnership that consumed 69 balls to dent the scoring rate for his team, especially after the whirlwind start. At the score of 123, left-arm spinner Zohaib dismissed Bazid for a painstakinglymade eight off 43 balls before snapping Amin seven runs later to claim his second wicket. Yasim Murtaza (63) and Usman Saeed (33) then combined to take the total to 217 in the 40th over to set the tone for the big hits in the final 10 overs. Khalid Usman had Murtaza caught by Junaid Khan before Zohaib grabbed his third wicket when he had Saeed caught by Nazir.
But wicket-keeper batsman Naeem Anjum gave the final impetus to the innings with a whirlwind 52 off only 35 deliveries, laced with nine boundaries. Anjum and Imad Wasim (24) added 64 off just 49 balls to push the score towards 300 before two wickets off consecutive balls halted their charge. Anjum, however ensured that he reached his fifty and Federal Areas crossed the 300- mark that proved enough to take maximum points.
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