KARACHI: Khurram Manzoor may no longer be in the Pakistan frame but the seasoned batter proved his true worth when it mattered on Friday playing a pivotal role in helping Sindh upstage Southern Punjab by five wickets in the early National T20 Cup action in Rawalpindi on Friday.
The 35-year-old’s outstanding 49-ball 84 was 25 runs more than the Twenty20 World Cup-bound trio of Sohaib Maqsood, Khushdil Shah and Azam Khan collectively garnered for Southern Punjab at the Pindi Cricket Stadium.
After losing the left-handed opening pair of Sharjeel Khan and Shan Masood in pursuit of a 176-run target, Sindh remained on course thanks to Khurram’s calming presence at the crease. Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed made just 15 but the ex-Pakistan skipper crucially stayed long enough to share a third-wicket partnership of exactly 50 in 33 deliveries, until indecisive running cost him his wicket.
Player-of-the-match Khurram — who last played for the country during the 2016 T20 Asia Cup in Bangladesh — scored the bulk of the 46 runs added for the fourth wicket with Hasan Mohsin (7) in 31 balls. However, after striking 10 boundaries and three sixes, he also found himself stranded as Hassaan Khan had his second run-out victim.
The icing on the cake for Sindh was then provided by Anwar Ali — another Pakistan reject — as the all-rounder bludgeoned three sixes and two fours during a nine-ball blitz of 29. The 33-year-old took a particular liking for the pace of Mohammad Ilyas in the game-changing penultimate over which yielded 21 runs.
Danish Aziz (17 off 11 balls) completed the last rites by taking two boundaries off the wayward Mohammad Imran Randhawa when Sindh required only six runs from that final over.
Southern Punjab, the runners-up to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the 2020 edition, inducted 18-year-old Faisal Akram, the left-arm wrist spinner, who despite not taking a wicket, gave away only 25 runs from four overs.
Earlier in the afternoon, Southern Punjab squandered a decent batting Powerplay when the left-handers Zain Abbas and Zeeshan Ashraf cashed in on loose bowling from the pace quartet of Anwar, Mohammad Hasnain, Rumman Raees Khan and Shahnawaz Dhani to put on 59 before Hasnain broke with the wicket of Zain (25 off 20, five boundaries).
Leg-spinner Zahid Mahmood cut short Zeeshan’s innings of 34 (20 balls, five fours and one six). Khushdil came and went quickly for a 12-ball 21, which included successive sixes off Anwar. Sindh saw the back of Sohaib when the Southern Punjab captain was run out for 18.
The comical sight of Azam lasted roughly half an hour before Dahani cleaned up the burly right-hander for run-a-ball 20.
Pakistan discard Aamir Yamin, however, kept the scoreboard ticking at breakneck speed to blast 43 off 26 balls. The all-rounder hoisted four sixes and two fours bt his luck finally ran out when Hasnain had him caught by Sharjeel in the last over of the innings.
At the time of filing this report, Central Punjab and Balochistan were playing in the night fixture.
Zain Abbas n Hasnain 25
Zeeshan Ashraf b Zahid 34
Sohaib Maqsood run out 18
Khushdil Shah c Danish b Anwar 21
Azam Khan b Dahani 20
Aamir Yamin c Sharjeel b Hasnain 43
Hassaan Khan b Rumman 4
M. Imran Randhawa not out 3
Mohammad Ilyas not out 1
EXTRAS (LB-1, W-4, NB-1) 6
TOTAL (for seven wkts, 20 overs) 175
FALL OF WKTS: 1-59, 2-63, 3-92, 4-113, 5-127, 6-153, 7-171.
DID NOT BAT: Faisal Akram, Naseem Shah.
BOWLING: Anwar Ali 4-0-38-1; Mohammad Hasnain 4-0-40-2 (1nb); Shahnawaz Dahani 4-0-37-1 (1w); Rumman Raees Khan 4-0-34-1 (3w); Zahid Mahmood 4-0-25-1.
Shan Masood b Ilyas 10
Sharjeel Khan c Imran b Aamir 10
Khurram Manzoor run out 84
Sarfaraz Ahmed run out 15
Hasan Mohsin b Naseem 7
Danish Aziz not out 17
Anwar Ali not out 29
EXTRAS (LB-1, W-5, NB-1) 7
TOTAL (for five wkts, 19.2 overs) 179
FALL OF WKTS: 1-16, 2-33, 3-83, 4-129, 5-138.
DID NOT BAT: Rumman Raees Khan, Mohammad Hasnain, Zahid Mahmood, Shahnawaz Dahani.
BOWLING: Aamir Yamin 4-0-38-1 (1w); Naseem Shah 4-0-28-1 (1nb); Mohammad Ilyas 4-0-44-1 (2w); Hassaan Khan 1-0-11-0; Mohammad Imran Randhawa 2.2-0-32-0 (1w); Faisal Akram 4-0-25-0 (1w).
RESULT: Sindh won by five wickets.
UMPIRES: Ghaffar Kazmi and Imran Javed.
TV UMPIRE: Aftab Gillani.
MATCH REFEREE: Nadeem Arshad.
PLAYER-OF-THE-MATCH: Khurram Manzoor (Sindh).
SATURDAY’S FIXTURES: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa vs Southern Punjab (3:00pm PST); Northern vs Sindh (7:30pm PST).
Published in Dawn, September 25th, 2021