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February 23, 2021

Northern start as favourites to win U16 title today


February 23, 2021

RAWALPINDI: Northern, after their performance in the league matches, will start as favourites to dethrone Central Punjab for the Under-16 National One-day Tournament title when the both teams meet today (Tuesday) here at the Pindi Stadium.

Central Punjab shared the trophy last year with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who finished third this year, in the 2019-20 season after the final was washed out at the Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad.

Both Central Punjab and Northern will be eyeing to bag Rs350,000 and the winning trophy when they face-off in the final, a 45-over per innings affair. The runners-up of the event will receive Rs250,000.

The two teams played each other in the second round of the tournament with Northern winning the match by 27 runs. Central Punjab are pinning their hopes on Ubaid Shahid, the leading run-getter from their side and the second highest overall in the tournament. The right-handed batsman from Lahore has hit two centuries and one half-century and scored 297 runs at a staggering average of 148.50. His both centuries came in a comfortable five-wicket and eight-wicket wins over Balochistan and Southern Punjab, respectively.

Their captain Azan Awais has also enjoyed a good run with the bat as he has scored 296 runs — including a century against Northern — at 74.

Reflecting on team’s batting line and Ubaid’s performance, 16-year-old Azan said: “Ubaid and I have been performing well and would like to stretch the run in the final. Our batting line is strong and we have the ability to chase down any target and score big if we bat first.”

Central Punjab’s fast bowling pair Ibtisam Rehman and Awais Ali have shared 23 wickets between them and Azan have high expectations from the pair also.

“Ibtisam and Awais have performed consistently in the tournament, and I expect them to perform the same way to achieve our goal of winning the final.”

Northern’s Shamyl Hussain, the left-handed batsman from Islamabad, is the top-run getter for his side. The 16-year-old has scored 256 runs from five outings at an average of 64. His best of 103 came in the win over Central Punjab.

Saad Masood, captain of Northern, has also enjoyed good form with both ball and bat. Saad with his right-arm off-break has taken 10 wickets from five matches at an average of 15.40. His best figures of four for 30 came in a narrow-loss against Balochistan by two wickets at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in the third-round match.

He has scored 101 runs in five matches at an average of 20.20. His best innings with the bat came against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, when he scored 58 off 75 balls, hitting four boundaries. Northern won that match against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by a comfortable margin of six wickets.

Amir Hassan, hailing from Rawalpindi is leading the wickets chart with 12 scalps from five matches. His maiden five-wicket haul came in Northern’s six-wicket win over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“Our bowlers have performed consistently in the tournament,” said Saad. “Amir and I have performed well, and we look forward to a good game in the final.”

Commenting on the win against Central Punjab in the group match and strategy for the final, Saad said: “We have beaten them in the round-match in a close encounter, but we will come-up with a different strategy in the final to lift the trophy.”