Pakistan National T20: Clinical Central Punjab overwhelm Sindh to enter final
Home City Central Punjab produced a commanding performance to book their spot in the National T20 final with a one-sided seven-wicket victory over GFS Sindh in the second semi-final played under the lights at the Gaddafi Stadium Lahore on Tuesday night.
Home City Central Punjab win by seven wickets
GFS Sindh 141 for 8, 20 overs (Khurram Manzoor 34, Sharjeel Khan 32; Qasim Akram 3-15, Zafar Gohar 2-15, Wahab Riaz 2-30)
Home City Central Punjab 145 for 3, 17.5 overs (Kamran Akmal 51, Ahmed Shehzad 49; Sohail Khan 1-24)
Player of the match: Qasim Akram
Central Punjab will take on defending champions Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in what is their first National T20 final since the tournament was revamped as a six-team competition in the 2019-20 season.
On Tuesday night, seasoned campaigners Ahmed Shehzad and Kamran Akmal spearheaded the 142-run chase with an almost flawless batting display that left the Sindh bowlers clueless.
Wicketkeeper-batter Kamran registered the 44th T20 half-century of his career while Ahmed fell one short of his 40th T20 fifty. The two added 88 runs for the second-wicket. Kamran who played some typically stylish shots in his innings scored 51 off 36 balls (seven fours, one six) he was dismissed by spinner Abrar Ahmed in the 14th over.
Ahmed was dismissed by Sohail Khan for 49 (46 balls, four fours). The pair of Hussain Talat (13 not out) and Qasim Akram (11 not out) took Central Punjab past the target with 13 balls to spare.
Earlier, Sindh got off to a flying start as openers Sharjeel Khan and Khurram Manzoor added 50 in 6.2 overs. Central Punjab roared back in contention through their young all-rounder (player of the match) Qasim who got rid of Sharjeel for 32 (19 balls, five fours, one six).
Sindh crashed from 50 for no loss to 87 for five as Qasim and left-arm-spinner Zafar Gohar ran through the middle-order with their probing spin bowling.
After dismissing Sharjeel, Qasim got rid of Saud Shakeel (7) and Danish Aziz (0). Zafar dismissed Shan Masood (1) and Khurram who was Sindh’s top-scorer with 34 off 40 balls (three fours).
Pacer Sohail who was promoted to number five in the batting order contributed 21 runs but Sindh never fully recovered from their batting slump and finished well short of a competitive total.
They only reached 141 courtesy some big hits by tail-enders Mir Hamza (19 not out, 9 balls, one four, two sixes) and Rumman Raees 14.
Qasim finished with three for 15 in four overs, while Zafar took two for 15 in his four-over spell. Wahab took two wickets for 30 runs.
Sindh – Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain and wicketkeeper), Anwar Ali (vice-captain), Abrar Ahmed, Ahsan Ali, Danish Aziz, Hassan Mohsin, Khurram Manzoor, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Hasnain, Muhammad Taha, Ruman Raees, Saud Shakeel, Shan Masood, Shahnawaz Dahani, Sharjeel Khan and Zahid Mahmood
Central Punjab – Babar Azam (captain), Hasan Ali (vice-captain), Abdullah Shafique, Ahmed Safi Abdullah, Ahmed Shehzad, Ehsan Adil, Faheem Ashraf, Hussain Talat, Kamran Akmal (wicketkeeper), Mohammad Akhlaq (wicketkeeper), Mohammad Hafeez, Qasim Akram, Saif Badar, Shoaib Malik, Usman Qadir, Wahab Riaz and Waqas Maqsood