National T20 Cup – All-round Shadab Khan maintains Northern’s perfect start in win over Central Punjab

It was a day that allowed two streaks at the National T20 Cup to continue unbroken. Northern maintained their perfect start to their defence of the National T20 Cup, winning their third game on the trot, comfortably easing past Central Punjab by 35 runs. In the second game, Southern Punjab’s winless run at the tournament continued as they fell to an agonising 6-run defeat to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Northern beat Central Punjab by 35 runs

Defending champions Northern continued their ominous start to the National T20 Cup with a third straight win, besting Central Punjab by 35 runs. CP lost seven wickets for 30 runs in the space of 41 balls while chasing a moderate total of 155, ending up being bowled out for 120 with nearly two overs to spare.

No batsman other than Abid Ali (36 off 33 balls) was able to establish control during the chase. The innings broadly centred around the opener, who hung around until the 13th over, but when he edged behind to fast bowler Mohammad Musa, CP began to run into trouble. Abdullah Shafique (20 of 12 balls) and 14 apiece by Rizwan Hussain and skipper Saad Nasim kept them afloat, but when the side failed to keep up with the asking rate while wickets continued to fall, the equation quickly became insurmountable. Three wickets each for Haris Rauf and Mohammad Musa were centrally responsible for Northern’s successful defence.

Asked to bat first, Northern didn’t enjoy the best of starts, scoring at just over four for the first half of the innings. But once captain Shadab Khan arrived at the crease, all that changed, his brisk 17-ball 30 turning the tide in Northern’s favour. Umar Amin and Asif Ali combined for 45 off 25, but Abdul Qadir’s three wickets looked to have kept the defending champions in check. Northern’s bowlers, however, ensured the total was more than enough in the end.

After the game, Northern batsman Haider Ali was fined for a breach of the PCB Code of Conduct for Player and Player Support Personnel. Haider was fined 30% of his applicable match fee for a Level 1 offence relating to showing dissent at an umpire’s decision during a match.

The incident occurred in the ninth over of Northern’s innings when Haider showed his bat to the umpire, which was deemed as a disagreement over the decision, after being adjudged LBW on an Usman Qadir’s delivery. Haider was charged for the violation of Article 2.8 by on-field umpires Aftab Gillani and Faisal Khan Afridi. Haider pleaded guilty and accepted the sanction proposed by match referee Iftikhar Ahmed.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa beat Southern Punjab by 6 runs

In the evening game, half centuries by Mohammad Rizwan and Mohammad Hafeez set up a six-run win for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa over Southern Punjab. Southern Punjab needed 22 off the final over and six off the last ball to tie the game, but when Saif Badar failed to deliver, it condemned South Punjab to their third straight defeat.

Chasing 201, Southern Punjab began crisply with 14 off the first over, but regular wickets hampered their cause. None of the top three managed 20, with Shan Masood, Zeeshan Ashraf and Umer Siddiq falling early. But Hussain Talat’s 22-ball 38 and Sohaib Maqsood combined for a 78-run partnership to keep the chase on track. Maqsood – hitting his second fifty in his third game – smashed 77 off 40 balls, but once Wahab Riaz cleaned him up, the wickets continued to fall and the game began to slip away from the home side.

Put in to bat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s innings was set up thanks to a 100-run partnership between Mohammad Rizwan and Mohammad Hafeez, which came off just 55 balls. It was followed up by a blistering cameo from Iftikhar Ahmed at the death, his 20-ball 45 ensuring KP managed to get to 200. Southern Punjab’s bowlers found it hard work, with the exception of Mohammad Irfan, who gave away 29 in his four, but for the third game in a row, the home side ended up on the wrong side of a high-scoring fixture.

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