Mohammad Abbas defends 12 in the final over to keep Southern Punjab’s hopes alive
By; Asghar Ali Mubarak
Rawalpindi; All-rounder Faheem Ashraf’s scintillating half-century (54 off 22 balls) went in vain as a brilliant final over by Mohammad Abbas sealed a thrilling three-run win for Southern Punjab against Central Punjab in the 24th match of the National T20 Cup for First XI teams at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi on Tuesday night.
Faheem stole the limelight in the death overs after coming to bat with his side requiring 81 off the last 40 balls with five wickets standing. He went onto hit four fours and five sixes but was eventually dismissed for 54 off 22 balls on the last ball of the penultimate over leaving Central Punjab 12 runs short of the target.
Abbas bowled a brilliant final over in which he conceded a mere eight runs and dismissed Usman Qadir (six) off the final ball to earn his side a much-needed victory that has kept their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals alive.
Southern Punjab now have four points from eight games while Central Punjab have six from nine matches, Southern Punjab still need to win their last two matches and hope for some favourable results to sneak through to the semi-finals.
Central Punjab’s 206-run chase began at a disastrous note when the in-form Babar Azam was dismissed for a golden duck by Aamer Yamin with Zahid Mahmood taking a smart catch at the third-man boundary.
Abdullah Shafiq fell to Mohammad Abbas for 13 while Southern Punjab made another major breakthrough when Kamran Akmal was dismissed by Mohammad Ilyas for 32 off 18 balls (two fours, three sixes) leaving Central Punjab 57 for three in the sixth over.
Muhammad Akhlaq contributed 30 off 18 balls (two fours, two sixes) while Rizwan Hussain made 29 off 27 balls, the two however failed to make the most of their starts as Central Punjab stuttered to 125 for five in the 14th over.
Faheem Ashraf then revived the chase with some stunning stroke play first in the company of Qasim Akram (21 off 14 balls, three fours) and then Zafar Gohar (seven not out) but failed to take his side over the line.
Reflecting on his performance, man-of-the-match Mohammad Abbas said: “I had played four games, I really wanted to win my team a game. The captain wanted me to bowl the last over while I wanted to bowl the penultimate over. I am really happy that I have won the game for my team. I have played white-ball previously too despite my success in Test cricket; I enjoy bowling in T20 cricket. I really want to improve further in this format and would continue to strive for success.”
Central Punjab asked Southern Punjab to bat first after winning the toss. Openers Shan Masood and Zain Abbas added 54 runs in their 39-ball stand, Zain fell for 16. Shan played a captain’s knock, the left-hander made 50 off 38 balls (seven fours) before he was stumped by Kamran off Zafar after adding 50 runs with Hussain Talat.
The Shan stumping was the 100th of Kamran’s T20 career; the 38-year-old is the first wicketkeeper in history to register 100 stumpings in the shortest format.
After Shan’s dismissal, Sohaib Maqsood contributed a breezy 25 off 12 balls (three sixes), Sohaib was dismissed by Zafar. Khushdil Shah replaced Sohaib and made a useful alliance with Hussain.
The two added 68 runs in a mere 38 balls for the unbroken fourth wicket stand that took Southern Punjab to their 205 for three total. Hussain remained unbeaten on 59 off 36 balls (seven fours, two sixes).
Khushdil who hit a record-breaking 35-ball 100 in Southern Punjab’s victory over Sindh last week, once again showcased his big-hitting ability with an unbeaten 47 off 23 balls. The left-hander hit four fours and three sixes in his innings.
Zafar took two wickets for 20 runs (two overs) while Ahmed Bashir took one wicket for 36 runs in four overs.
Scores in brief
Southern Punjab 205-3, 20 overs (Hussain Talat 59 not out, Shan Masood 50, Khushdil Shah 47 not out; Zafar Gohar 2-20)
Central Punjab 202-8, 20 overs (Faheem Ashraf 54, Kamran Akmal 32, Muhammad Akhlaq 30; Mohammad Abbas 3-41, Aamer Yamin 2-38, Muhammad Imran 2-43)
Result – Southern Punjab won by three runs
Man-of-the-match – Mohammad Abbas (Southern Punjab)
Points Table after 24 matches
Sr. # Teams P W L Points NRR
1 Northern 7 6 1 12 1.104
2 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 8 5 3 10 0.235
3 Sindh 8 4 4 8 0.009
4 Balochistan 8 4 4 8 -0.433
5 Central Punjab 9 3 6 6 0.034
6 Southern Punjab 8 2 6 4 -0.829
In the event of teams finishing on equal points, the right to play in the semi-finals will be determined as follows:-
i. The team with the most number of wins
ii. If still equal then the team which has lesser number of defeats
iii. If still equal then the team with the highest net run rate