KARACHI: A scintillating century by an animated Khurram Manzoor inspired Punjab to a clinical six-wicket rout of arch rivals in the inconsequential last preliminary-round fixture of the Pakistan Cup in Rawalpindi on Thursday.
The 32-year-old smashed 168 as Punjab made short work of a 296-run chase at the Pindi Cricket Stadium with no less than 70 deliveries to spare. Upon reaching his 24th List A hundred in 145 matches, Khurram made a strong gesture — apparently to the national selection committee headed by Inzamam-ul-Haq — by pointing to his bat and the number — 42 — on his shirt, in a reference to his time out of the Pakistan side whom he represented in March 2016.
With nothing at stake for either Punjab or Sindh since Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have already qualified for the final on Friday, Khurram chose this moment to send out an emphatic reminder to the powers-be that he’s still good enough to play at the international after scoring tons of runs in top domestic competitions organised by the PCB.
On Thursday, Khurram was in his element from the word go as he outscored all three of his partners during his stay at the crease. Kamran Akmal, the captain, made 26 in the first-wicket stand of 55.
Sami Aslam hit up a 50-ball 54 with five fours and one six while playing supporting role to Khurram in the second-wicket partnership of 139 before Iftikhar Ahmed (33 off 28 balls) helped Khurram add 82 for the third wicket.
Man-of-the-match Khurram, who negotiated only 116 balls and struck 23 boundaries and four sixes — including two in succession off seamer Hammad Azam — also became the first player to score 1,000 runs in Pakistan Cup when he reached 20. In 16 matches of the four editions he has amassed 1,148.
Khurram departed when just 10 runs were needed, falling to Aamir Yamin, who was lucky not to be no-balled for over-stepping as TV replays suggested he should have been.
Earlier, discarded Pakistan paceman Sohail Tanvir was largely instrumental in restricting Sindh from crossing the 300-run mark as the left-armer bowled economically to give away just 17 runs from 10 overs in which he scalped Sahibzada Farhan (20), Aamir Yamin (6) and Hammad Azam (42 off 31 balls, three sixes and one four).
The highpoint of the Sindh innings after Umar Gul chose to bat at the first was the fourth-wicket partnership of 123 between Umar Amin (83 off 85, four sixes and four fours) and Asif Ali, who bludgeoned seven fours and three sixes in a typically feisty 41-ball knock of 62 — the Pakistan right-hander’s highest score of this tournament.
Fahad Iqbal also grabbed three wickets — for 44 runs in five overs — after being pressed into service by Kamran when the discarded Pakistan paceman Ehsan Adil pulled up injured.
Umar Siddique c Ehsan b Waleed 38
Sahibzada Farhan c Iftikhar b Sohail 20
Ahsan Ali c Hussain b Waleed 4
Umar Amin b Fahad 83
Asif Ali c sub b Fahad 62
Hammad Azam c Kamran b Sohail 42
Mohammad Hasan lbw b Asghar 16
Aamir Yamin c Saad b Sohail 6
Nauman Ali c Saad b Fahad 1
Umar Gul not out 14
Mohammad Ilyas not out 1
EXTRAS (W-8) 8
TOTAL (for nine wkts, 50 overs) 295
FALL OF WKTS: 1-44, 2-49, 3-82, 4-205, 5-214, 6-257, 7-268, 8-270, 9-282.
BOWLING: Sohail Tanvir 10-1-17-3; Ehsan Adil 5-0-36-0 (3w); Waleed Ahmed 10-1-55-2; Iftikhar Ahmed 9-0-60-0 (1w); Mohammad Asghar 10-0-73-1; Hussain Talat 1-0-10-0; Fahad Iqbal 5-0-44-3 (3w).
Kamran Akmal c Hasan b Ilyas 26
Khurram Manzoor c U. Gul b Aamir 168
Sami Aslam c Aamir b Nauman 54
Iftikhar Ahmed c Hasan b Ilyas 33
Saad Ali not out 8
Fahad Iqbal not out 5
EXTRAS (LB-1, W-4) 5
TOTAL (for four wkts, 38.2 overs) 299
FALL OF WKTS: 1-55, 2-194, 3-276, 4-286.
DID NOT BAT: Hussain Talat, Sohail Tanvir, Ehsan Adil, Mohammad Asghar, Waleed Ahmed.
BOWLING: Umar Gul 5-1-27-0; Aamir Yamin 9.2-0-68-1; Mohammad Ilyas 9-0-64-2 (2w); Umar Amin 1-0-9-0; Nauman Ali 7-0-68-1 (2w); Hammad Azam 7-0-62-0.
RESULT: Punjab won by six wickets.
UMPIRES: Rashid Riaz and Shozab Raza.
TV UMPIRE: Ahsan Raza.
MATCH REFEREE: Mohammad Anees.
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Khurram Manzoor.
FRIDAY’S FIXTURE: Final — Balochistan vs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (2:00pm PST).
(Tabulated under played, won, lost, no-result, points, net run-rate):
Balochistan 4 3 0 1 7 +0.817
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 4 3 0 1 7 +0.267
Punjab 4 2 2 0 4 +0.297
Sindh 4 1 2 0 2 -0.386
Federal Areas 4 0 4 0 0 -0.714
Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2019