National T20 Cup: Shaheen, Hafeez, Fakhar set Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s commanding win over Sindh
Shaheen Afridi’s record five-wicket haul and half-centuries by Mohammad Hafeez and Fakhar Zaman orchestrated Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s third win of the National T20 Cup First XI tournament as they defeated Sindh by eight wickets at the Multan Cricket Stadium on Monday.
Sindh 183-7, 20 overs (Sharjeel Khan 90, Ahsan Ali 42; Shaheen Afridi 5-21)
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 184-2, 19 overs (Mohammad Hafeez 72 not out, Fakhar Zaman 61, Iftikhar Ahmed 40 not out; Anwar Ali 2-40)
Result – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa won by eight wickets
Player of the match – Shaheen Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa)
With five for 21, Shaheen became the first Pakistan bowler in the history of T20 cricket to register four five-wicket hauls in the format. Only Lasith Malinga has more five-wicket hauls (5) and the Sri Lanka pacer has gathered them in 295 matches, 239 more than Shaheen’s.
This was the 20-year-old’s second five-fer in three matches.
The left-arm pacer accounted for Khurram Manzoor’s wicket on his fourth ball with a scorching full-length delivery that came back into the right-handed batsman and followed it up with the wicket of Azam Khan in his next over.
When I was walking in the middle before the start of the match, I had a clear aim in mind that I have to stick to my in-swing bowling and hit the hard length: @iShaheenAfridi #NationalT20Cup | #HarHaalMainCricket pic.twitter.com/23klzlTcMh— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) October 5, 2020
Sharjeel Khan and Ahsan Ali knitted a remarkable 111-run stand for the fourth wicket after Sindh captain Sarfaraz Ahmed fell on the first ball of the last powerplay over to Wahab Riaz.
Sharjeel, the left-handed opener, continued his impressive run and missed what would have been his third century in the format by 10 runs. He spanked Khyber Pakhtunkhwa bowlers for six sixes and seven fours in his 56-ball 90. He was duly supported by Ahsan, who made 42 off 32, which included five fours and a six.
With Sindh looking set to cross the 200-run mark, Asif Afridi, the left-arm orthodox, provided Khyber Pakhtunkhwa the much-needed breakthrough with the wicket of Ahsan, following which, Shaheen removed Sharjeel, Anwar Ali and Sohail Khan as Sindh lost their last three wickets for 18 runs.
Reflecting on his and the team’s performance, Shaheen told pcb.com.pk: “When I was walking in the middle before the start of the match, I had a clear aim in mind that I have to stick to my in-swing bowling and hit the hard length.
“I am grateful to the Almighty that I have been able to gather four five-wicket hauls in such a short span of matches.
“We sat as a group and discussed the conditions here after the first match. Since, we have been enjoying a great run in the tournament. Our captain is leading us from front and the seniors like Mohammad Hafeez, Wahab Riaz and Shoaib Malik are carrying the team.”
Mohammad Hafeez scored his second half-century on trot as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa overhauled the 184-run target in 19 overs. The all-rounder smashed four sixes and as many fours from 42 balls and returned not out on 72.
Hafeez joined Fakhar Zaman - who was the other batsman to score a half-century with a 41-ball 61, which was studded with six fours and two sixes - after the dismissal of his captain Mohammad Rizwan, who scored eight off 10.
The two set up a blistering 100-run partnership from 52 balls as they found boundaries at regular intervals and never allowed the opposition bowlers to settle.
The dismissal of Fakhar did not provide any relief to Sindh bowlers as Iftikhar Ahmed raced to 40 not out at a strike rate of over 190. Iftikhar struck three sixes and a four.
Sarfaraz’s men will be eager to avenge this defeat when these two teams meet at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on 13 October.
1500 PST - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa v Central Punjab. Aftab Gillani and Faisal Khan Afridi (on-field umpires), Waleed Yaqub (third umpire), Zameer Haider (fourth umpire); Nadeem Arshad (match referee).
19.30 PST – Balochistan v Northern. Qaiser Waheed and Waleed Yaqub (on-field umpires), Aftab Gillani (third umpire), Faisal Khan Afridi (fourth umpire); Mohammad Anees (match referee).