KARACHI: Test cricketers Shan Masood and Babar Azam blasted fine centuries to catapult Islamabad into the final when they defeated Rawalpindi by 13 runs in a high-scoring second semi-final of the National One-day Cup for Regions at the Pindi Stadium in Rawalpindi on Friday.
Islamabad will now face Karachi Whites in the final on Sunday (tomorrow) at the same venue. Shan (182*) and Babar (136) shepherded Islamabad to 380-2 in the allotted 50 overs. This is also the second highest total in this event. Hamza Nadeem (3-85) and Nouman Ali (2-81) then helped Islamabad restrict Rawalpindi to 367-9.
In the last over from medium pacer Shehzad Azam Rana (1-75), Rawalpindi needed 28 runs but they could only get 14 with rookie wicket-keeper batsman Umair Masood (50*) hitting two sixes off the last two balls.
Earlier, Rawalpindi’s skipper Mohammad Hafeez won the toss and surprisingly invited Islamabad to bat on a wicket that was full of runs.Shan and Abid Ali (36) provided a 71-run start to the federal capital before medium fast bowler Yasir Ali had the latter.
Abid, who had hit a record 209 not out against Peshawar a few days ago, smashed five fours and one six from 35 deliveries.Shan and Babar then kept the golden run, sharing 283 for the second wicket partnership to take Islamabad to a mammoth total.
This is also the highest partnership for any wicket in this event so far. Left-arm paceman Saad Altaf (1-62) broke the stand when he got rid of Pakistan’s most accomplished batsman Babar, who was held nicely at cover by Saud Shakeel. It was Babar’s first game in the event.
The right-hander, who completed his 16th List A hundred off 93 balls, smacked 13 fours and five sweetly-timed sixes, with the two coming off two successive balls from Yasir Ali (1-80).Shan, who was dropped thrice, batted till the end, smacking 20 fours and one six in his 153-ball career-best innings. This was the second century of the event from the skipper and ninth of his List A career.
In response, Rawalpindi had a disastrous start when they lost Umar Amin (11) and Naved Malik (10) in quick succession. Umar was unlucky when he got run out. Mohammad Hafeez (48) hit a straight shot off spinner Raza Hassan and the ball crashed the stumps at the non-striker’s end after kissing the fingers of the bowler with Umar languishing outside his crease. Left-arm spinner Nouman Ali then bowled Hafeez off a beauty after he had shared 44 runs for the third wicket association with Iftikhar Ahmed (123).
It was a delivery that pitched on the leg-side, spun away sharply before crashing the stumps of the former Pakistan captain. Hafeez hammered six fours and one six in his brisk 44-ball knock. Young left-hander Saud Shakeel (70) and Iftikhar then tried to consolidate the innings, putting on 164 for the fourth wicket association to keep Rawalpindi alive.
In the 35th over Nouman had Saud, who hit nine fours in his 62-ball fine knock. Zeeshan Malik then used long handle, hitting 16-ball 31 with two sixes ad three fours to keep Islamabad under pressure. After Malik’s fall, Umair also batted aggressively, sharing 51 for the sixth wicket association with Iftikhar, who got run out which dented Rawalpindi’s chase.
Umair hit Shehzad Azam straight with the ball hitting the stumps at the non-striker’s end after deflecting off the bowler’s leg and Iftikhar was found outside the crease.Iftikhar, who has played one Test for Pakistan against England, smashed eight fours and four sixes in his first century of the event and fifth of his List A career. Hamza Nadeem then took three quick wickets in the end to restrict Rawalpindi just behind the target. Umair smashed four sixes and two fours in his fiery 34-ball first fifty of his List A career.Ahsan Raza and Khalid Mehmood Senior supervised the match, while Mohammad Saqib acted as TV umpire and Majid Hussain as reserve umpire.
Rawalpindi won toss
*Shan Masood not out 182
†Abid Ali c Iftikhar b Yasir 36
Babar Azam c Saud b Saad 136
Faizan Riaz not out 12
Extras (lb 8, nb 1, w 5) 14
Total (2 wickets; 50 Overs) 380
Did not bat: Saad Ali, Shahid Yousuf, Nauman Ali, Shehzad Azam, Hamza Nadeem, Ahmed Bashir, Raza Hasan
Fall: 1-71, 2-354
Bowling: Saad 8-0-62-1; Ataullah 8-0-52-0; Yasir 9-1-80-1; Umar 4-0-26-0; Kashif 10-0-78-0; Saud 5-0-34-0; Iftikhar 6-0-40-0
*M Hafeez b Nauman 48
Naved Malik c Abid b Shehzad 10
Umar Amin run out 11
Iftikhar Ahmed run out 123
Saud Shakeel lbw b Nauman 70
Zeeshan Malik c Babar b Ahmed 31
†Umair Masood not out 50
Kashif Bhatti c & b Hamza 1
Yasir Ali b Hamza 8
Ataullah b Hamza 4
Saad Altaf not out 0
Extras (b 1, lb 1, nb 3, w 6) 11
Total (9 wickets; 50 Overs) 367
Fall: 1-21, 2-40, 3-84, 4-230, 5-269, 6-320, 7-324, 8-349, 9-353
Bowling: Raza 10-0-63-0; Shehzad 10-0-75-1; Ahmed 10-1-61-1; Nauman 10-0-81-2; Hamza 10-0-85-3
Result: Islamabad won by 13 runs
Series: Islamabad advanced to Final
Umpires: Ahsan Raza and Khalid Mahmood. Match Referee: M Anees