Pakistan National T20 Cup – Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf inflict sixth straight loss on Southern Punjab


Mohammad Nawaz and Haris Rauf hold off Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to take Northern to fourth

Central Punjab 123 for 3 (Babar Azam 59, Hassan Khan 2-15) beat Southern Punjab 119 (Azam Khan 45, Agha Salman 40, Hasan Ali 4-24, Faheem Ashraf 3-14) by seven wickets

Southern Punjab lost their sixth straight game in a row, with Central Punjab trouncing their provincial rivals by seven wickets to eliminate them from semi-final contention.

SP found themselves under pressure instantly after being put in to bat with Faheem Ashraf removing both openers in the first over. Agha Salman and Azam Khan looked to have put them back on track with an 84-run stand, but once it broke, SP crumbled completely. Hasan Ali ripped through the order with four wickets as CP picked them off with ease, the last eight wickets falling for 34 runs to leave CP chasing a straightforward 120.

The chase was as simple as they come, with Babar Azam assuming complete control from the outset. An unbeaten 59 formed the spine of the CP innings, with Kamran Akmal playing his part for the second-wicket partnership. CP had no need to ever really get out of second gear, finally putting SP out of their misery in the 18th over, both on the night and in the tournament.

Northern 181 for 7 (Nawaz 51, Shadab 46, Shaheen 2-30) beat Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 167 for 8 (Iftikhar 58, Rauf 3-31) by 14 runs

A whirlwind 90-run fifth-wicket partnership between Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan helped Northern recover from the loss of four early wickets to beat Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by 14 runs.

Table-toppers KP put Northern in to bat first, and Shaheen Afridi put them under immediate pressure in a glorious first over in which he removed Ali Imran and Haider Ali. Northern rebuilt with a 50-run third-wicket stand, only to lose another couple in quick succession. But they stuck to their plans, with the in-form Nawaz and Shadab launching an impressive counter-attack, with the next 90 runs coming in nine overs as Nawaz smashed a 34-ball 51, his second half-century in three games. Shadab’s 27-ball 46 was the accompaniment, and thanks to a handy cameo from Asif Ali, Northern got to 181.

KP’s response lacked the necessary intent required to chase down a steep total for much of the first ten overs, hampered by the loss of Mohammad Rizwan and Sahibzada Farhan early. With the asking rate rising, Iftikhar Ahmed brought his side back into the contest with a glorious half-century, but lack of support from the other end ensured KP were always a touch too far behind the game. And once Haris Rauf, who starred with three wickets, had Iftikhar hole out, all doubts vanished, with a clinical Northern closing out an impressive win.

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