KARACHI: Atrocious umpiring from Tariq Rasheed played a huge part in helping Southern Punjab make the semi-finals of the National T20 Cup at the Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad with a much-needed 34-run victory against the luckless Sindh on Monday.
In a game of fluctuations after the tournament resumed following a two-day break, the main talking point was the Lahore-based Tariq adjudging three batsmen — including deposed Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed — leg-before-wicket. Those howlers not only caused anguish in the Sindh dugout but also left the region waiting nervously until Tuesday’s last day of league fixtures to find out whether it has qualified for the knockout stage.
Southern Punjab jumped from fifth in the standings to third behind Northern and Balochistan — who both are already through to the last-four phase of the competition — with Sindh currently in fourth spot above Central Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but mathematically out of the race given their inferior net run-rate. A win for Central Punjab against bottom-placed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would automatically send Sindh out.
Coming to Monday’s encounter Sindh were seemingly in control just before the midpoint of the innings when Sarfraz and skipper Asad Shafiq were adding 63 after both Khurram Manzoor (2) and Ahsan Ali (1) perished quickly.
Asad, who made run-a-ball 25 with the aid of three boundaries, became first of four wickets for man-of-the-match Mohammad Hafeez, being caught by Saif Badar. Next man Saad Ali (2) looked aghast when umpire Tariq declared him LBW to Hafeez, who switched to round-the-wicket. The delivery from the off-spinner didn’t straighten enough to find the left-hander’s stumps.
After Omair Bin Yousuf (9) and Anwar Ali (2) got dismissed, Tariq came into the spotlight further when googlies from Zahid Mahmood resulted in the shock dismissals of Sohail Khan (13, two sixes) and Sarfraz (45 off 37 balls, three fours and one six). The trajectory of the ball was clearly going past the leg-stump in both cases as TV replays confirmed them.
Sindh lost their last six wickets in 35 deliveries for the addition of only 33 runs to be all out for 114 in the 18th over. Hafeez finished with figures of 4-24 while Zahid bagged 4-21.
Earlier Sohail, the Pakistan paceman, jolted Southern Punjab from the onset after Shan Masood chose to bat first. But the skipper himself became a villain in the piece when he edged the opening ball of the game to Sarfraz.
Hafeez, who was out for a second-ball duck against Balochistan last Thursday on his 39th birthday, once again fared miserably as Mir Hamza held the catch to send back the ex-Pakistan captain for a golden duck.
Sohaib Maqsood then completed a team hat-trick of ducks with Hamza holding another catch. With three wickets gone for just four runs, Southern Punjab were rescued by the excellent Wahab Riaz and veteran Shoaib Malik.
Wahab, who was promoted to No.3 as reward for his fine form with the willow, timed the ball sweetly to slam 41 from 30 deliveries while hitting three fours and a brace of sixes until he attempted to smash Kashif Bhatti — the slow left-armer who on Monday was named in the national squad for next month’s T20 series in Australia — but holed out to Omair.
Anwar put Sindh in command by removing Saif Badar (4), Umar Siddique, who was the fourth man to go without scoring, and Malik (38 off 41 balls, three fours and one six) but Aamir Yamin (27 off 19, two sixes and one four) and Bilawal Bhatti (25 off 14 balls, two fours and one six) managed to lift Southern Punjab to a respectable 148-9 in the end despite Sohail (4-15) and Anwar (3-21) bowling brilliantly.
Meanwhile, in the Second XI event at National Stadium in Karachi, Southern Punjab scored their fifth straight win, defeating Sindh by five run.
First XI — Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad:
Southern Punjab beat Sindh by 34 runs.
SOUTHERN PUNJAB 148-9 in 20 overs (Wahab Riaz 41, Shoaib Malik 38, Aamir Yamin 27, Bilawal Bhatti 24; Sohail Khan 4-15, Anwar Ali 3-21, Kashif Bhatti 2-55); SINDH 114 in 17.4 overs (Sarfraz Ahmed 45, Asad Shafiq 25; Zahid Mahmood 4-21, Mohammad Hafeez 4-24).
Second XI — National Stadium, Karachi:
Southern Punjab beat Sindh by five runs.
Southern Punjab 150-9 in 20 overs (Zeeshan Ashraf 56, Maqbool Ahmed 50; Shahnawaz Dhani 3-21, Mohammad Umar 3-27)); Sindh 145-9 in 20 overs (Jaahid Ali 40, Rameez Raja Jr 28, Ramiz Aziz 27; Ataullah 4-25, Mohammad Ali Khan 3-32).
First XI: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa vs Central Punjab (1:30pm); Balochistan vs Northern (5:30pm).
Second XI: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa vs Central Punjab (9:30am); Balochistan vs Northern (1:30pm).
Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2019