Gujranwala Giants remained in the hunt of a Pakistan Junior League playoffs berth as they secured a comfortable six-wicket win over the luckless Hyderabad Hunters in the 13th match of the tournament played at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore on Saturday afternoon.
The victory has given the Giants an outside chance of securing a playoff berth (net run rate -0.280). If Rawalpindi Raiders (net run rate -0.444) lose their match against Bahawalpur Royals (Saturday night) and finish on a net run rate worse than Giants, Giants will progress to the playoffs.
On a sunny afternoon on Saturday, the Giants made a remarkable comeback to restrict the Hunters to 129 for eight after a flying start by their opponents. The Giants batters then played some enterprising shots to hunt down the target in 16.2 overs.
Left-handed opener Azan Awais was the star performer for their side. The player of the match award winner ensured his side’s dominant win with a series of blazing shots before falling to Mohammad Zubair Jnr for 61 off 43 balls (five fours, two sixes). Captain Uzair Mumtaz scored 31 off 25 balls (two fours, one six) to follow-up on his three-fer with the ball. Zubair took two wickets for the Hunters.
Hunters had earlier won the toss and opted to bat. The opening pair of captain Saad Baig and Moiz Rana provided their side a 72-run stand in 11 overs. Saad scored 43 off 44 balls (seven fours) before mistiming a lofted drive off his opposite number Uzair Mumtaz. Moiz was run out for a run-a-ball 25 with the total at 91 in 13.2 overs.
The middle and lower-order endured another failure as Hunters failed to capitalize on the foundation provided by the openers. Arbaz Khan (15), Muneeb Wasif (5), Ali Naseer (11), Salman Ahmed (5), Isai Thorne (2) and Aftab Ibrahim (8) returned to dugout in quick succession as the Hunters lost momentum in the middle and death overs to post a below par 129 for eight total.
Uzair had an excellent outing with the ball, his off-spin yielded him three wickets for a mere 13 runs in three overs. Pacer Mohammad Ibtisam bowled with pace and penetration to finish with two wickets for 17 runs in his four overs. Matthew Tromp continued his good run with the ball by taking two wickets for 25 – four overs.