KARACHI: Discarded internationals Iftikhar Ahmed and Umar Amin both reached three figures before Sindh withstood a spirited onslaught from Balochistan to seal a close 12-run win in the Pakistan Cup at the Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad on Friday.
Balochistan, who were left reeling by a seven-wicket drubbing against Punjab on Wednesday, made a brave attempt to reach the 367-run target. Opener Bismillah Khan and skipper Ahmed Shehzad kept their side very much in the hunt while they forged a lightening second-wicket stand of 120 in only 77 balls before both fell in the 80s.
Shehzad plundered 84 off 49 balls with 13 fours and one six, while Bismillah contributed a 62-ball 81 that included eight fours and a brace of sixes. Anwar Ali later bludgeoned 58 off 54 balls (four boundaries and two sixes) but it was to no avail as the Pakistan left-arm paceman Junaid Khan returned to mop up the tail without any fuss to finish with 4-55 in 7.2 overs.
After opting to bat first on the placid track, Sindh posted 366-8 in the stipulated 50 overs with Umar and Iftikhar adding 144 for the second wicket after Salman Butt had perished for 42-ball 40 (three fours and one six).
Umar, leading Sindh in the franchised-based competition, hit up 102 — the 28-year-old’s eighth one-day hundred — from 108 deliveries as the elegant left-hander struck 15 boundaries.
Salman, mystifyingly dropped by Lahore cricketing authorities for the National Regional Cup in February, and Umar laid a solid platform in the opening stand of 86 before Iftikhar came to play a scintillating knock.
Iftikhar, coming into the 66th List A fixture of his career on the back of an average of 50.11, could have made more than 116 had he not fallen victim to a fine piece of fielding from Shehzad who threw down the stumps with a direct hit. The 27-year-old’s sixth century in this format off just 83 balls was embellished with nine fours and six sixes.
Iftikhar’s dismissal at 281 on the last ball of the 41st over somewhat slowed down the rate of scoring until Bilal Asif went berserk to thrash 44 from 17 balls with five fours and three sixes. Anwar took a real pasting when he was unwisely brought back into the attack at death after conceding 27 runs in his first three overs. His fourth yielded as many as 23 runs as Bilal deposited the ex-international for three sixes.
Salman Butt c Shaheen b Nawaz 40
Umar Amin c Shehzad b Hamza 102
Iftikhar Ahmed run out 116
Fawad Alam c Khushdil b Nawaz 23
Aamir Yamin c Irfan b Shaheen 14
Khurram Shehzad c Khushdil b Anwar 11
Bilal Asif c and b Umar 44
Adnan Akmal b Umar 5
Mohammad Asghar not out 1
EXTRAS (B-4, LB-1, W-5) 10
TOTAL (for eight wkts, 50 overs) 366
FALL OF WKTS: 1-86, 2-230, 3-281, 4-294, 5-306, 6-337, 7-361, 8-366.
DID NOT BAT: Junaid Khan, Mohammad Irfan.
BOWLING: Umar Gul 8-0-53-2 (1w); Shaheen Shah Afridi 10-0-63-1 (2w); Anwar Ali 4-0-50-1 (1w); Mohammad Irfan Jr 10-0-65-0; Mir Hamza 8-0-59-1; Mohammad Nawaz 10-0-71-2 (1w).
Bismillah Khan run out 81
Naved Malik c Iftikhar b Junaid 11
Ahmed Shehzad st Adnan b Asghar 84
Mohammad Nawaz c Aamir b Iftikhar 24
Rameez Raja c Adnan b Fawad 18
Khushdil Shah st Adnan b Asghar 25
Anwar Ali c Fawad b Junaid 58
Umar Gul not out 29
Mohammad Irfan Jr c Aamir b Irfan 13
Shaheen Shah Afridi b Junaid 0
Mir Hamza c Bilal b Junaid 0
EXTRAS (LB-6, W-5) 11
TOTAL (all out, 49.2 overs) 354
FALL OF WKTS: 1-31, 2-151, 3-202, 4-227, 5-231, 6-284, 7-331, 8-354, 9-354
BOWLING: Junaid Khan 7.2-0-55-4; Mohammad Irfan 10-0-79-1 (1w); Mohammad Asghar 10-0-69-2 (2w); Aamir Yamin 2-0-25-0; Bilal Asif 9-0-60-0; Fawad Alam 6-0-34-1 (1w); Iftikhar Ahmed 5-0-26-1 (1w).
RESULT: Sindh won by 12 runs.
UMPIRES: Ghaffar Kazmi and Zameer Haider.
TV UMPIRE: M. Sajid Afridi.
MATCH REFEREE: Mohammad Anees.
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Iftikhar Ahmed.
SATURDAY’S FIXTURE: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa vs Punjab (2:30pm PST).
Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2018