Basit Ali (91 not out, 55 balls, 13 fours, two sixes) inspired Bahawalpur Royals and Gwadar Sharks will clash in the inaugural Pakistan Junior League final tomorrow (Friday) as the Royals thumped Mardan Warriors by nine wickets in tournament’s Qualifier 2 at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore. The two teams who had secured the top two spots in the group stage will compete for the glittering tournament trophy and a winners’ prize of PKR 10million in the showpiece encounter.
On Thursday night, Royals began their 133-run chase in style with the first 16 runs coming through blazing boundaries. Warriors hit back when Mohammad Nabeel avenged Shawaiz Irfan’s (4) boundary by having him caught and bowled in the second over of the innings.
Basit, the leading run-getter in the tournament, continued to attack despite the early loss of Shawaiz. The right-hander was instrumental in helping the Royals reach 50 in five overs.
Basit then reached his second 50 of the tournament off 34 balls. During his commanding innings, the Dera Murad Jamali batter also reached the 300-run mark in the tournament, at the end of today’s effort, Basit has a tournament tally of 344 runs at 68.80 (150.22 strike rate).
Basit was ably supported by Tayyab Arif (32 not out, 31 balls, two fours) who played some delightful shots of his own during the unbroken 117 second-wicket stand. The Royals chased down the target in 14.5 overs (31 balls to spare).
Earlier, Royals won the toss and opted to bowl first. The Warriors got off to a flying start through Shahzaib Khan and George Thomas. The two took the score to 38 in the fifth over, Thomas (14) was brilliantly held by Tayyab in the slips two balls after he had dropped a relatively simple chance, off-spinner Arham Nawab took the wicket.
Shahzaib added 39 runs for the second-wicket in the company of Mohammad Farooq. The right-handed Farooq hit one towering six and a couple of fours in his 24 (22) before missing an ungainly heave against Obaid.
From 77 for one, the Warriors crashed to 114 for seven – six wickets for 37 runs. Pacer Mohammad Zeeshan who has been one of the most potent new-ball bowlers in the tournament, was held back for the second half of the innings.
The lanky fast bowler took the crucial wickets of Shahzaib (32 off 36, two fours, one six) and Haseeb Khan (2) as he bowled his four overs unchanged for figures of 4-0-22-2.
Wicketkeeper Daud Nazar scored 23 off 16 balls (one six, one four) to take the Warriors to a respectable score. The right-hander was dismissed in the final over as Warriors finished their 20 overs at a modest 132 for nine. Arham and Obaid took two wickets apiece for the Royals.