National T20 Cup: Fakhar Zaman’s 66 stretches Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s winning streak
Fakhar Zaman’s half-century set Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s fourth consecutive win in the ongoing National T20 Cup First XI tournament as they defeated Central Punjab by 29 runs at Multan Cricket Stadium on Tuesday.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 178-7, 20 overs (Fakhar Zaman 66, Shoaib Malik 27 not out, Mohammad Rizwan 23, Asif Afridi 20; Ahmed Bashir 3-32)
Central Punjab 149 all out, 19.2 overs (Kamran Akmal 47, Abdullah Shafiq 43; Arshad Iqbal 2-20, Asif Afridi 2-27, Junaid Khan 2-27, Wahab Riaz 2-34)
With a blazing 66, which came off 42 balls, Fakhar registered his second half-century on trot and 20th overall in T20 cricket.
The 30-year-old provided Khyber Pakhtunkhwa a solid start as he stitched a 45-run opening stand with his captain Mohammad Rizwan, who made 23 off 14 balls, in 4.5 overs after the latter decided to bat first.
Fakhar, who smashed three fours and five sixes, then partnered with veteran Shoaib Malik, who scored an unbeaten 24-ball 27, for 42 runs before he was dismissed by Zafar Gohar in the 14th over.
Reflecting on his performance, Fakhar said: “My plan was to spend time on the pitch as the bowlers were receiving assistance early on. I wanted to get the ball to get a little old before I play my shots. I am happy that I have been able to score second consecutive half-century in a winning cause because as a player the ultimate goal is to win the match for your team.
“That we have the presence of experienced players in Hafeez and Shoaib also help a great deal as they share their experience and knowledge. They help us in reading the conditions both while batting and fielding. Winning is a habit, which we have developed after losing the first match. We are enjoying our time here and have gelled together as a unit.”
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s scoring rate received a massive boost with Asif Afridi’s 20 off seven balls. The 33-year-old Peshawar-born struck two sixes and a four that lifted his team to 178 for seven.
Right-arm medium fast Ahmed Bashir was the pick of the bowlers for Central Punjab with three for 32 in four overs. Zafar, Ehsan Adil, Qasim Akram and Usman Qadir took one wicket each.
Abid Ali’s lacklustre run in the tournament continued as the right-handed batsman got out on the last ball of the opening over of the run chase after hitting a boundary.
A 92-run stand for the second wicket between Kamran Akmal and Abdullah Shafiq gave Central Punjab’s fans hope of their side securing their second win of the tournament. They were, however, crashed as Central Punjab slipped from one for 99 to six for 128 in a span of 23 balls after Kamran was caught behind, courtesy brilliant glovework by Rizwan, off Shoaib’s off-spin in the 12th over.
Kamran missed what would have been his 42nd T20 half-century by three runs as he scored 47 from 37 balls, while Abdullah made a 37-ball 43. Both struck five boundaries apiece – four fours and a six.
Central Punjab were bowled out for 149 with four balls spare. Arshad Iqbal, playing his first match of the tournament after Khyber Pakhtunkhwa rested Shaheen Shah Afridi, returned two for 20. Asif Afridi, Junaid Khan and Wahab Riaz also took two wickets each.
The two teams will meet again on 14 October at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi.
1500 PST – Northern v Central Punjab. Ahsan Raza and Imran Javed (on-field umpires), Shozab Raza (third umpire), Imtiaz Iqbal (fourth umpire); Mohammad Anees (match referee).
19.30 PST – Sindh v Southern Punjab - Ghaffar Kazmi and Rashid Riaz (on-field umpires), Asif Yaqoob (third umpire), Saqib Khan (fourth umpire); Nadeem Arshad (match referee)