KARACHI: It was one-way traffic in the afternoon at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi on Saturday.
In a lopsided National T20 Cup game, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa played like the champions they are. Southern Punjab had no chance to bounce back from the defeat against Sindh in their opening match the day before. They were comprehensively outplayed in all departments by the Mohammad Rizwan-led side, which cruised to the top of standings with a seven-wicket romp.
This wasn’t exactly the rematch of the 2020 final between these teams. Inserted into bat, Southern Punjab’s hopes were badly dented in the powerplay when ex-Test seamer Imran Khan sent back Zeeshan Ashraf and captain Sohaib Maqsood in space of three deliveries. And when Mohammad Wasim got rid of Zain Abbas, they further slipped to 34-3.
Used as a pinch-hitter, Mohammad Imran Randhawa underlined his potential as a decent all-round cricketer. The 24-year-old from Khanewal not only registered his maiden T20 half-century but ensured Southern Punjab at least post a total to challenge their rampant opponents.
Imran, who was the top-scorer with a fine 54 off 46 deliveries (seven fours and one six) and the Twety20 World Cup-bound Khushdil Shah resurrected the innings with a stand of 70. Curbing his natural instincts, Khushdil was watchful as the left-hander made a 17-ball 24.
But once these two got out, Southern Punjab started to disintegrate at the death. Former Pakistan U-19 skipper Hassaan Khan, however, batted enterprisingly to crunch four boundaries in a 14-ball 25.
Imran and the ever-present Shaheen Shah Afridi shared the spoils with the ball by sharing seven wickets between them. While Shaheen repeated his three-wicket act against Central Punjab on Thursday night with 3-34, the 34-year-old Imran ended with impressive analysis of 4-34.
Pace-bowling all-rounder Wasim, who is in Pakistan’s T20 World Cup squad, continued his progress by adding the wicket of Azam Khan — another member named for the global event — to finish with 2-32.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were dented upfront in their chase when Fakhar Zaman was trapped in front by teenaged seamer Naseem Shah for one. But thereafter, Rizwan and Sahibzada Farhan dominated the bowling to bring up the first 100-plus partnership of this edition, putting on 136 in 90 balls before both went in successive balls.
Farhan, who was the first to go, was in belligerent mood. The Pakistan reject slammed six fours and four sixes in making 73 from 49 deliveries until Naseem had him caught by Khushdil on the final ball of the 17th over.
Rizwan, meanwhile, extended his brilliant form with the willow as he crossed 50 for the second straight game. The Pakistan star opener in this format celebrated his 150th T20 appearance by striking 64 off 47 balls (six fours and one six). He was eventually stumped by Azam to give the 18-year-old left-arm exponent of wrist spin Faisal Akram the maiden wicket in his second match.
Adil Amin and Iftikhar Ahmed were in no hurry to finish the game, which finally concluded on the fourth ball of the final over.
Zain Abbas c Farhan b Wasim 12
Zeeshan Ashraf c Adil b Imran 11
Sohaib Maqsood c Rizwan b Imran 0
M. Imran Randhawa c Wasim b Shaheen 54
Khushdil Shah c Iftikhar b Shaheen 24
Azam Khan c Imran b Wasim 14
Aamir Yamin c Shaheen b Asif 2
Hassaan Khan c Fakhar b Imran 25
Mohammad Ilyas c Wasim b Shaheen 1
Naseem Shah c Musadiq b Imran 0
Faisal Akram not out 1
EXTRAS (LB-1, W-6, NB-1) 8
TOTAL (all out, 19.4 overs) 152
FALL OF WKTS: 1-26, 2-27, 3-34, 4-104, 5-113, 6-115, 7-129, 8-146, 9-151.
BOWLING: Shaheen Shah Afridi 4-0-34-3 (4w); Imran Khan 3.4-0-28-4 (1w); Arshad Iqbal 4-0-27-0 (1w); Mohammad Wasim 4-0-32-2 (1nb); Musadiq Ahmed
1-0-9-0; Asif Afridi 3-0-21-1.
Fakhar Zaman lbw b Naseem 1
Mohammad Rizwan st Azam b Faisal 64
Sahibzada Farhan c Khushdil b Naseem 73
Adil Amin not out 6
Iftikhar Ahmed not out 6
EXTRAS (W-3) 3
TOTAL (for three wkts, 19.4 overs) 153
FALL OF WKTS: 1-4, 2-140, 3-140.
DID NOT BAT: Musadiq Ahmed, Mohammad Wasim, Asif Afridi, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Arshad Iqbal, Imran Khan.
BOWLING: Aamir Yamin 3-0-23-0 (1w); Naseem Shah 4-0-27-2; Mohammad Ilyas 3.4-0-30-0; Mohammad Imran Randhawa 2-0-13-0; Faisal Akram 4-0-42-1 (w); Hassaan Khan 3-0-18-0.
RESULT: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa won by seven wickets.
UMPIRES: Ahmed Shahab and Imran Javed.
TV UMPIRE: Ghaffar Kazmi.
MATCH REFEREE: Nadeem Arshad.
PLAYER-OF-THE-MATCH: Imran Khan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).
SUNDAY’S FIXTURES: Southern Punjab vs Balochistan (3:00pm PST); Central Punjab vs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (7:30pm PST).
Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2021