Haris Rauf‘s four-wicket burst cut a swathe though the Southern Punjab batting, as Northern recorded their sixth win in seven games to ensure a spot in the semi-final of the National T20 Cup.
For Southern Punjab, it was a tale of two extremes inside three days. They had pulled off a remarkable 217-run chase for a two-wicket win over Sindh on Friday, but stumbled to a five-run loss in this game when chasing a relatively modest 146 for victory. This was their fifth defeat in six games, leaving them at the bottom of the six-team table.
After eight overs of their chase, the scoreboard showed a sorry 30 for 3, and Rauf already had two wickets – openers Umar Siddiq and Shan Masood. Rauf bowled his four overs in separate spells, and picked up a wicket in each of them, ending with 4 for 23 and not letting Southern settle down at any stage.
Khushdil Shah, who hit the fastest T20 hundred by a Pakistani the other day, put up a resistance with 26 off 20 balls, with Zeeshan Ashraf, who played some inventive shots in his 20-ball 25, lifting the scoring rate during their fifth-wicket stand. After them, Aamer Yamin’s enterprising 33 off 19 balls pushed the game into the final over, but with 15 to get, Southern only managed nine runs against Imad Wasim, who ended with 2 for 33.
Earlier, asked to bat, Northern’s run rate was below five after the powerplay, and both their openers had been dismissed. But Sohail Akhtar (35 off 32) and Asif Ali (28 off 18) did the repair work, and though they were reeling at 101 for 6 in the 15th over, Imad’s 26 not out in 18 balls took them to what proved to be a winning score.
Report of the Balochistan vs Sindh match to follow…