KARACHI: It was time for revenge in the National T20 Cup at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi late on Sunday night.
In the return National T20 Cup fixture arguably between the two most glamorous outfits in the competition, Central Punjab made a swift recovery from the 36-run loss to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa last Thursday as they humbled the defending champions by 43 runs.
Hussain Talat, who has had in-and-out type of white-ball career for Pakistan over the past three years or so, was the inspiration for the Babar Azam-led team with an effervescent half-century, two catches and a wicket.
The 25-year-old left-hander had been the key to Central Punjab posting 171-6 after Babar had perished for just 16, following a opening stand of 42 (29 balls) with Ahmed Shehzad. Hussain’s 26-ball 51 included 38 runs in boundaries — five fours and three sixes — was made in the company of discarded Pakistan stalwart Shoaib Malik, who was playing his first match of this edition.
The younger man outscored the 39-year-old former national captain as they stitched together a 75-run partnership from 40 deliveries after coming in at 90-3 in the 12th over.
Malik contributed a 20-ball 24 (three fours) while Shehzad (40 off 36, four fours) and Mohammad Akhlaq (24 off 19) also played their part in ensuring a tough chase for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa when batting noticeably gets tricky in the second half.
Without any doubt, Mohammad Rizwan has been the driving force for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with back-to-back 50s at start of the event. The captain, however, was desperately unlucky in this game. A fortuitous dismissal limited his stay to just nine balls.
A powerful back drive by Sahibzada Farhan ricocheted off bowler Ehsan Adil’s right boot onto the stumps and found Rizwan failing to ground his bat in the nick of time. With Fakhar Zaman still recuperating from a foot injury sustained in the previous match, Israrullah failed to make any impact.
And when Ehsan — playing his first competitive game since last November — and Hasan, who had hobbled off the field after being struck on the knee by a Mohammad Wasim full toss, removed Adil Amin and Musadiq Ahmed for first-ball ducks.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were in serious danger of bundled out for a low score, but eventually managed to reach 128 at the end.
But from 19-4, Farhan engineered a spirited comeback with successive partnerships of 49 and 45 with Iftikhar Ahmed and Wasim, respectively.
Farhan and Wasim were the joint top-scorers with 34 with the latter underlining his batting prowess — by bludgeoning three sixes and as many fours — just under a month before Pakistan’s opening Twenty20 World Cup clash against India.
Sunday’s result also saw major changes in the six-team standings as Sindh — the only side with an unblemished record — moving to the top on net run-rate while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa drop two spots into third place behind Central Punjab ahead of Wednesday’s next round of matches.
Both teams were docked for maintaining a sluggish over-rate with Central Punjab fined Rs40,000 and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Rs25,000.
Meanwhile, among the players picked for the World Cup, Mohammad Hafeez has been a major absentee from the first leg. According to Central Punjab team sources, the veteran all-rounder has returned back to Lahore — where the second leg begins from Oct 6 — after reportedly falling ill due to food poisoning.
Ahmed Shehzad b Asif 40
Babar Azam c Iftikhar b Arshad 16
M. Akhlaq c Shaheen b Israr 24
Shoaib Malik c Asif b Wasim 24
Hussain Talat c Farhan b Shaheen 51
Faheem Ashraf c Israr b Shaheen 0
Hasan Ali retired hurt 1
Qasim Akram not out 5
Wahab Riaz not out 0
EXTRAS (LB-1, W-9) 10
TOTAL (for six wkts, 20 overs) 171
FALL OF WKTS: 1-42, 2-82, 3-90, 4-165, 5-165, 6-166.
DID NOT BAT: Ehsan Adil, Usman Qadir.
BOWLING: Shaheen Shah Afridi 4-0-39-2 (1w); Imran Khan 4-0-44-0 (1w); Arshad Iqbal 2-0-26-1; Mohammad Wasim 3-0-24-1 (1w); Asif Afridi 4-0-23-1; Israrullah 3-0-14-1 (1w).
NOTE: Hasan Ali retired hurt at 171-6 (19.5 overs).
Mohammad Rizwan run out 6
Israrullah c Wahab b Faheem 7
Sahibzada Farhan c Babar b Hussain 34
Adil Amin b Ehsan 0
Musadiq Ahmed c Hussain b Hasan 0
Iftikhar Ahmed c Hussain b Wahab 22
M. Wasim c Faheem b Wahab 34
Asif Afridi c Akhlaq b Wahab 0
Shaheen Shah Afridi c Ahmed b Qasim 12
Arshad Iqbal run out 0
Imran Khan not out 0
EXTRAS (B-4, LB-2, W-6, NB-1) 13
TOTAL (all out, 18.2 overs) 128
FALL OF WKTS: 1-10, 2-16, 3-18, 4-19, 5-68, 6-113, 7-114, 8-119, 9-126.
BOWLING: Faheem Ashraf 3-0-23-1 (1nb); Ehsan Adil 4-0-26-1 (2w); Hasan Ali 2-0-9-1; Usman Qadir 4-0-31-0; Wahab Riaz 3-0-21-3 (2w); Hussain Talat 2-0-12-1 (1w); Qasim Akram 0.2-0-0-1.
RESULT: Central Punjab won by 43 runs.
UMPIRES: Ahmed Shahab and Aftab Gillani.
TV UMPIRE: Imran Javed.
MATCH REFEREE: Iqbal Sheikh.
PLAYER-OF-THE-MATCH: Hussain Talat (Central Punjab).
WEDNESDAY’S FIXTURES: Sindh vs Balochistan (3:00pm PST); Northern vs Southern Punjab (7:30pm PST).
Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2021