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Hafeez inspires Lions to second National T20 title

December 09, 2012

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Lahore Lions celebrate with the trophy. -Photo by Whitestar

LAHORE: Lahore Lions, inspired by a brilliant all-round performance from their adopted skipper Mohammad Hafeez, overwhelmed Faisalabad Wolves by a convincing margin of 33 runs to clinch their second Faysal Bank National Twenty20 Cup title at the Gaddafi Stadium here on Sunday.

The Lions, who lifted the trophy for the first time in 2010-11 under Mohammad Yousuf’s captaincy, always had too much ammunition up their sleeves against a side which was forced to miss their most influential game-changer Saeed Ajmal who was helping Adelaide Strikers beat Perth Scorchers in the Australian T20 competition at the WACA Ground in Perth on Sunday.

Hafeez, who ironically also was a member of the Misbah-ul-Haq-led Wolves side that won the inaugural edition of the shortest format in April 2005 at the same venue and represented them until opting to play for the Lions in this event, scored run-a-ball 22 to lift the Lions to a competitive 154-7 after opting to bat on a slow pitch.

The Pakistan Twenty20 captain then decimated the Wolves’ hopes by taking a wicket in each of his four overs to finish with magnificent figures of four for 11, before putting the finishing touches to the final by catching Misbah off Abdul Razzaq (2-19 in three overs). The same combination had earlier dismissed Farrukh Shahzad to draw first blood for the eventual champions who curtailed their opponents to 121-8.

Misbah, who scored 37 from as many deliveries with a brace of fours and one six, was always fighting a lost battle after Khurram Shehzad had perished in the fifth over to leave the Wolves in tatters at 32-3.

Apart from Misbah — the Pakistan Test and one-day skipper — only left-handed Ali Waqas prospered with 14-ball 25, featuring four boundaries and one six, before was well caught by Kamran Akmal, while Jahandad Khan (13 off 11 balls, two fours) and Ehsan Adil (13 not out from 15 balls) were the others to reach double figures.

The Lions, earlier, got off to rollicking start when Ahmed Shehzad hammered six boundaries in his rapid 29 off only 18 balls until he was brilliantly held by Farrukh Shahzad who had to run backwards at mid-off. Ahmed plundered 391 runs in the tournament; far ahead of second-placed Imranullah Aslam who accumulated 262 runs for the surprise outfit of the tournament, Bahawalpur Stags.

The diminutive Farrukh, in fact, spent a busy late afternoon as held three more catches including a diving-forward effort running in from long-on to see the back of Nasir Jamshed.

The left-handed Nasir, who had modest tournament until now, hit 42 off 28 balls with five hits to the fence in what was the highest score of the match. He put 51 for the second wicket with Hafeez.

The Akmal siblings shared a stand of 38 before the Wolves fought back through the impressive Ehsan Adil who scalped them both of them. Umar struck run-a-ball 22 and Kamran struggled through 20 balls to make 18.

Ehsan enhanced his reputation further in front almost a capacity turnout with three for 23 in yet another promising display by the young speedster to finish with 10 wickets in his maiden tournament.

The experienced paceman Asad Ali grabbed 2-34 to end the competition with 15 wickets — the highest by any bowler.

At the end of it all, an elated Hafeez, who was the Man-of-the-Match, collected the winners’ trophy and prize-money of Rs2 million on behalf of his charges from the Punjab governor Latif Khan Khosa at an overcrowded presentation ceremony. Wolves skipper Misbah received the runners-up prize of Rs1 million.