Haseeb Khan produced a superb unbeaten 49 off 39 balls (five fours, one six) to guide the Mardan Warriors to a four-wicket victory in a tense last over chase against the Hyderabad Hunters in match 10 of the Pakistan Junior League at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore on Wednesday night. The win – Warriors third in four matches – confirmed a playoff berth for the Warriors. Hunters who endured a fourth straight loss in as many matches have become the first side to be eliminated from the powerplay race.
Haseeb combined for an unbroken 47-run alliance with wicketkeeper Daud Nazar (23 not out, 14 balls, two fours, one six) to defy the Hunters who fought hard despite a low score. Daud Nazar finished the match off with a four and six off the first two balls of the final over to seal his side’s victory.
Warriors began their 129-run chase on the backfoot as Ali Naseer followed his batting brilliance to knock over the dangerous George Thomas for a duck in the first over of the Warriors’ reply. The right-armer then removed Olly Cox (5) in his second over and continued a memorable evening at the GSL by removing the Warriors captain Abbas Ali (3) in his third over. Ali’s sensational burst left Warriors wobbling at 37 for three at the end of five overs.
Warriors’ middle-order struggled to get the scoreboard moving. Off-spinner Haseeb-ur-Rehman took the vital wicket of Shahzaib Khan (33 off 35 balls, three fours) to end a 29-run fourth-wicket stand between him and Haseeb Khan. Mohammad Nabeel was dismissed for a golden duck which left Warriors reeling at 71 for five at the end of 12 overs. The situation worsened for the Warriors when Archie Lenham (4) was dismissed hit-wicket off Mohammad Zubair Jnr.
Warriors needed 38 off the last 24 balls. Haseeb and wicketkeeper Daud Nazar took 10 runs off the 17th over bowled by Muneeb Wasif. Haseeb hit a big six off Dubs Wood in the 18th over as the Warriors managed 10 more runs in the over. Ali conceded 12 runs in the 19th over including the dropped chance.
Ali finished with three for 38 in four overs. Zubair took two while Haseeb took one wicket.
Earlier, it was Ali’s unbeaten 54 that kept the Hunters in the hunt after a top and middle-order failure saw them reduced to 65 for six in 11.5 overs. The left-handed Ali found able support from Zubair who hung around at the end to give Ali the much needed support.
The two added 63 runs in their unbroken partnership to help their side reach 128 for six. Ali hit four fours and two sixes in his 37-ball innings. Zubair scored eight unbeaten runs off 16 balls.
The damage in the Hunters innings was done by the Warriors pace and spin attack. Leg-spinner Lenham and Mohammad Irfan took two wickets apiece. Abidullah and Aimal Khan who have been arguably the most exciting pair of fast bowlers in the tournament to date picked a wicket apiece in their fiery opening bursts. Hunters’ openers Saad Baig (captain) and Afaq Khan perished for ducks. Arbaz Khan scored 22 while Moiz Rana contributed 17 runs.