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December 24, 2018

Abid, Asif push Islamabad into T20 semis

Sports

December 24, 2018

KARACHI: Abid Ali scored a solid unbeaten fifty and Asif Ali batted aggressively to put Islamabad in the semi-finals when they overwhelmed hosts Multan by seven wickets in their last league outing of the National T20 Cup at Multan Cricket Stadium on Sunday.

In the semi-finals on Monday (today), the league winners Rawalpindi (10 points) will face the third-placed Karachi Whites (8 points, 0.256). The second-placed Lahore Whites (8 points, 0.413) will take on the fourth-placed Islamabad (6 points, 0.140).

Islamabad needed to chase 118-run target in 18 overs in order to beat Multan on net run-rate. And they did that in 16.4 overs thanks to Abid’s fine 48-ball 50 and Asif’s 15-ball 33 not out.Earlier, fast bowler Shehzad Azam Rana created cracks in the top order by picking 3-19 to enable Islamabad to dismiss Multan for 117 in 19 overs.

Islamabad faced an early blow when left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar got rid of opener Rohail Nazir (3) in the second over.Abid put on 45 runs for the second wicket with Ali Sarfraz, who fell after making 19 off 20 balls with three fours.

Skipper Imad Waseem also failed to play a long innings. He was removed by Zulfiqar for a 15-ball 10, which featured one four. Pakistan’s T20 specialist Asif Ali and Abid then put on 48 off 30 balls for the fourth wicket unbroken stand to put their team in the semi-finals.

Asif smashed three sixes and two fours in his fiery knock. Abid’s knock featured four fours. Zulfiqar got 2-26.After being sent into bat, Multan lost their experienced batsmen Mohammad Hafeez (8) and skipper Sohaib Maqsood (5) early. They kept losing wickets. Zeeshan Malik was the only batsman who played with responsibility, scoring a 55-ball 57.

Zeeshan, who opened the innings and was the last man to get out, hammered five fours in his fine fifty. Shehzad was ably backed by fast bowlers Ahmed Bashir (2-23) and Umar Gul (2-27). Abid was declared the Man of the Match.

Islamabad skipper Imad praised his boys. “The way the whole team played was excellent,” Imad said. “Multan had got experienced players. We knew that if we got the wickets of Hafeez and Sohaib then we could control the situation. We did that and put Multan under pressure,” Imad said.

“We will decide about our combination for the semi-finals after we know against which side we will play. We will win the semi-final also,” Imad said. The loss left Sohaib utterly disappointed. “The way we have played we did not deserve to qualify for the semi-finals,” the dejected Sohaib said.

“Our players lacked game awareness and whenever we came under pressure in this tournament we flopped,” Pakistan’s discarded hard-hitting batsman said.Earlier in the day, Rawalpindi crushed Karachi Whites by eight wickets to emerge as the league leaders with ten points.

Powered by opener Naved Malik’s brilliant 36-ball 57, Rawalpindi achieved the 123-run target in just 16 overs. Naved, who hit three sixes and five fours in his swashbuckling knock, put on 87 for the opening stand with Nihal Mansoor, who fell for a-run-a-ball 34, which included one six and three fours.

Skipper Umar Amin (28*) and Saud Shakeel (5) then took their side comfortably home. Umar smashed four fours in his 19-ball knock.Pacemen Arshad Iqbal (1-8) and Rahat Ali (1-21) were the successful bowlers. After being invited to bat first, Awais Zia smashed a 44-ball 48 and Fawad Alam scored a-run-a-ball 32 to enable Karachi Whites to post 122-9 in the allotted 20 overs.

The duo added 39 runs for the third wicket to give some stability to the innings. But after that, the innings was ripped apart by Rawalpindi’s bowlers as Karachi Whites lost their last five wickets for just 18 runs. Left-arm pacer Sadaf Hussain was the pick of the bowlers with 3-24 from four overs. Left-arm spinners Mohammad Nawaz (2-32) and Khalid Usman (2-17) provided solid support to Sadaf. Naved was declared the Man of the match.

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