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April 28, 2018

Umar, Iftikhar blast centuries as Sindh edge Balochistan


April 28, 2018

KARACHI: Test cricketers Umar Amin and Iftikhar Ahmed blasted fine centuries and Test seamer Junaid Khan got 4-55 to enable Sindh to defeat Balochistan by 12 runs in their first day-night game of the Pakistan Cup National One-day Cricket Championship at Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad, on Friday.

Skipper Umar Amin (102) and Iftikhar (116) did a fine job with the willow to enable Sindh to post a huge total of 366-8 in the allotted 50 overs. Balochistan were folded for 354 in 49.2 overs. This was the second successive loss for Balochistan. After opting to bat first in simmering heat, Sindh had a nice day as their openers Salman Butt (40) and Umar Amin provided an 86-run start.

Salman, who was the first man to fall, smashed three fours and one six. The former Pakistan skipper faced 42 balls. Umar and Iftikhar took full advantage of the batting conditions and never desisted from dispatching the weak ball towards the boundary. They added 144 for the second wicket to pave the way for a staging a massive total.

The 28-year-old Umar, who has played four Tests and 16 ODIs for Pakistan, smacked 15 fours in his 108-ball eighth List A century. The 27-year-old Iftikhar, who was given Test cap against England in Pakistan’s last series in England, smashed nine fours and six sixes in his 83-ball hundred. This was his sixth List A hundred.

After losing a few quick wickets in the meantime, Bilal Asif used long handle, scoring 44 off only 17 balls. The international all-rounder smacked three sixes and five fours in his swashbuckling knock.

Test discard Umar Gul, who bowled with good line and length, was the pick of the bowlers with 2-53 in eight overs. Spinner Mohammad Nawaz got 2-71 in ten overs.In response, Balochistan lost their hard-hitting opener Naved Malik (11) very early.

Once again wicket-keeper batsman Bismillah Khan (81) and skipper Ahmed Shehzad (84) batted extremely well, adding 120 for the second wicket to create chances for their side to chase down the target.

Bismillah, who had hit a century against Punjab in the first game, got run out after he had smashed eight fours and two sixes in his fiery 62-ball knock. Shehzad, who batted more aggressively than Bismillah, cracked 13 fours and one six in his rapid 49-ball knock.

After the fall of Bismillah and Shehzad, Sindh’s spinners did a fine job as they got rid of Mohammad Nawaz (24) and Ramiz Raja (18) to tilt the pendulum of the match towards their team.

Khushdil Shah (25) and international all-rounder Anwar Ali (58) scored 54 for the sixth wicket to take Balochistan to 285-6 in the 39th over.After Khushdil’s departure, Umar Gul (29*) gave solid support to Anwar, but Junaid got the prized scalp of Anwar in the 46th over to make the situation balanced.

Anwar hammered four fours and two sixes from 54 deliveries. International left-arm pacer Mohammad Irfan bowled a fine 49th over, removing Mohammad Irfan Junior (13) to give an edge to Sindh.

In the last over, bowled by Junaid, Balochistan needed 13 runs to win. Junaid clean bowled Shaheen Shah Afridi off his first delivery to reduce Balochistan to 354-9. Off his next ball, Junaid got rid of Mir Hamza (0) to end the match. Gul remained not out after hitting one four and one six in his run-a-ball knock. Junaid was ably backed by spinner Mohammad Asghar who got 2-69.

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