Saif Ullah Khan
Balochistan took the second spot in points table as they defeated Central Punjab by three runs in the 12th match of the National T20 Cup for First XI teams on Monday night at the Multan Cricket Stadium. Balochistan were well served by their hugely experienced bowling duo of Umar Gul and Yasir Shah who took seven wickets between them to earn a hard fought win for their side which was there third from four games, giving them six points in all.
All-rounder Zafar Gohar brought Central Punjab with-in touching distance of the 169-run target as Umaid Asif conceded 16 runs in the final over of the match with Central Punjab needing 20 runs to win. Zafar remained unbeaten on 32 off 15 balls (3x4s, 1x6) but his cameo eventually went in vain.
Central Punjab lost their way in the final stages of their chase once the inform Abdullah Shafiq was bowled by Gul for 54 off 41 balls (six fours), Zafar revived the chase but failed to take his side across the line. Gul had earlier dismissed Irfan Khan (1) in the same over he dismissed Abdullah (17th of CP’s innings) to follow-up on the crucial wicket of Kamran Akmal whom Gul dismissed at the start of the chase; Kamran scored 25 off 15 balls (4x4s, 1x6).
The 37-year-old Gul then accounted for Qasim Akram (6) in his final over to finish with four wickets for 37 runs. Leg-spinner Yasir provided valuable support to Gul taking three wickets for 23 runs in four economical overs.
Reflecting on his performance man-of-the-match Umar Gul said: “Due to Covid-19 I didn’t play for a long time, I took time out from the middle and regained my touch by practicing hard at the start of the tournament and I was feeling very good today. The senior players in the squad like Imran Farhat and I try to guide the juniors as well as possible as this is our final season. The aim is to impart our skills to juniors in the squad, we have some talented players and we try and play our role as senior members as their guides and mentors.”
Balochistan won the toss and opted to bat first, openers Imam-ul-Haq and Awais Zia provided their side a 63-run opening stand in 52 balls. Awais was run out for 36 (28 balls, 4x4s, 1x6). Captain Haris Sohail promoted himself to the number three spot where he contributed 23 off 15 balls with one six and one four before falling to spinner Zafar Gohar.
Imam who received the man-of-the-match award for his 94-run innings against Southern Punjab yesterday once again held the Balochistan innings together with an unbeaten 80 off 55 balls. The left-hander hit eight fours and a solitary six in his solid batting effort that helped Balochistan post a competitive 168 for eight total.
Pacer Ehsan Adil was the pick of the Central Punjab bowlers, returning figures of three for 40 in his four overs. Zafar claimed two for 34 with his left-arm-orthodox.
Balochistan 168-8, 20 overs (Imam-ul-Haq 80 not out, Awais Zia 36, Haris Sohail 23; Ehsan Adil 3-40, Zafar Gohar 2-34)
Central Punjab 165-7, 20 overs (Abdullah Shafiq 54, Zafar Gohar 32 not out, Kamran Akmal 25; Umar Gul 4-37, Yasir Shah 3-23)
Result – Balochistan won by 3 runs
Player of the match – Umar Gul (Balochistan)