KARACHI: While Lahore Whites extracted sweet revenge against holders Lahore Blues for their defeat in last year’s final, Rawalpindi opened the National T20 Cup with a thrilling six-run victory against Islamabad in Multan on Monday.
Day one of the two-week extravaganza at the picturesque Multan Cricket Stadium — which sadly wore a deserted look at the start of the tournament with just a handful of cricket buffs there to watch the action live — provided contrasting results on a hazy day.
Imad Wasim, the Islamabad captain, elected to bowl first in the hope of taking advantage of early moisture in the pitch. But sensible batting from Rawalpindi saw them post 154-4. Discarded Pakistan opener Sami Aslam anchored the innings brilliantly against a decent bowling line-up that included Imad and pace trio of Sohail Khan, Umar Gul and Junaid Khan. The quartet bagged one wicket apiece.
The left-handed Sami emerged as the top-scorer with a 47-ball knock of 55 that was laced with six boundaries after fellow opener Nasir Nawaz had struck a breezy 18-ball 23 (two fours and one six) in the first-wicket partnership of 36.
Haider Ali, who blasted a brace of sixes and as many fours in a 16-ball 28, then helped Sami add 44 for the second wicket before being trapped LBW by Imad.
Ex-international Hammad Azam remained undefeated with a run-a-ball 22.
Islamabad struggled from the onset of their chase as they slid to 69-5 in the 12th over with only Faizan Riaz (32 off 34 balls, two fours) and Rohail Nazir (21 off 18, four boundaries) looking good.
However, Imad, who finished on a 26-ball 33 (four fours), and Sohail added respectability to the final tally of 148-7 by putting on 73 for the sixth wicket. Sohail used the long handle to good effect by thrashing his way to belligerent 39 from only 18 deliveries as the robustly-built paceman hit three fours and two sixes.
Slow left-armer Asif Ali and off-spinner Zahid Mansoor picked up two wickets each.
In the afternoon fixture, Rizwan Hussain contributed a chancy 55 (34 balls, three sixes and three fours) as Lahore Blues collected 139-9. The opener survived a stumping chance when Lahore Whites skipper and ex-Pakistan wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal fumbled with the ball.
Seamer Amad Butt bowled a brilliant spell of 3-18 in four overs while Bilal Asif, the off-spinner who has been axed from Pakistan’s upcoming tour of South Africa, was trifle expensive in taking 2-35 from his quota of four overs.
Salman Butt then hit up 47 off 40 balls upfront in the chase with seven strikes to the fence as Lahore Whites romped home with seven balls to spare. Zeeshan Ashraf (run-a-ball 26, one six and one four) and Saif Badar an unbeaten 25 off 13, two fours and one six) also played their part well to guide their side home.
Lahore Whites beat Lahore Blues by six wickets.
LAHORE BLUES 139-9 in 20 overs (Rizwan Hussain 55, Nauman Anwar 23, Adnan Akmal 21; Amad Butt 3-18, Bilal Asif 2-35); LAHORE WHITES 141-4 in 18.5 overs (Salman Butt 47, Zeeshan Ashraf 26, Saif Badar 25 not out, Wahab Riaz 17 not out; Ehsan Adil 2-41).
Rawalpindi beat Islamabad by six runs.
RAWALPINDI 154-4 in 20 overs (Sami Aslam 55, Haider Ali 28, Nasir Nawaz 23, Hammad Azam 22 not out); ISLAMABAD 148-7 in 20 overs (Sohail Khan 39, Imad Wasim 33 not out, Faizan Riaz 32, Rohail Nazir 21; Asif Ali 2-14, Zahid Mansoor 2-23).
Tuesday’s fixtures: Peshawar vs Fata (11:00am); Multan vs Karachi Whites (3:00pm).
Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2018