RAWALPINDI: Fast bowler Ahmed Bashir (4-23) and consistent Babar Azam (64 not out) made Central Punjab’s day with a thumping nine-wicket win against Balochistan in the National T20 Cup that slowly entered the decisive stage here at the Pindi Stadium late Monday.
Central team that was desperately looking forward to win, restricted Balochistan to just 125-8 in the allotted overs. Courtesy to some entertaining display of batting by Babar and Kamran Akmal (33), Central made the victory looked easy reaching home in just 14th over.
24-year-old Ahmed took his tournament tally to seven wickets from a mere two appearances with a fine bowling effort on a pitch that offered some assistance to both seamers and spinners.
Ahmed maintained a teasing line and length to account for Awais Zia (5), Harris Sohail (41), Akbarur Rehman (19), and Ammad Butt (15).
Later, Babar added 86 runs for the first-wicket with Kamran Akmal in mere 9.4 overs, Kamran was dismissed by Amad Butt for 33.
Babar and Abdullah Shafiq finished the game with 38 balls to spare with an undefeated second-wicket stand of 41 runs.
Central asked Balochistan to bat first after winning the toss. Balochistan were rocked early in their innings as off-spinner Qasim Akram dismissed Imamul Haq (5) and Abdul Wahid Bangalzai (0) off successive balls in the third over. Qasim who bowled brilliantly with the new ball conceded mere seven runs in his three-over opening spell.
Haris top-scored with a fighting 41 off 36 balls but became Ahmed’s fourth victim after the right-armer had accounted for Amad Butt (15) two balls earlier.
Scores in brief: Balochistan 125-8 in 20 overs (Hairs Sohail 41, Akbarur Rehman 19; Ahmed Bashir 4-23, Qasim Akram 2-7). Central Punjab 127-1 in 13.4 overs (Babar Azam 64 not out, Kamran Akmal 33, Abdullah Shafiq 27 not out; Amad Butt 1-23). Man-of-the-Match: Ahmed Bashir (Central Punjab).