Title defenders Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recorded their second win in as many matches with a two-run victory over Northern in a last-ball thriller of the National T20 Cup 2022-23 at the Pindi Cricket Stadium here on Thursday. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are locked on four points with table toppers Sindh following yesterday’s win, while Northern are positioned fifth, just above Central Punjab who are also yet to register a win. Earlier in the day, Southern Punjab recorded their first victory with a 21-run win over Balochistan. With one win each now, Balochistan and Southern Punjab are standing at third and fourth positions.
Captain Khalid Usman bowls Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to win: Northern needed 160 to win and their opener Hasan Nawaz (38 off 25) looked on course to hand them their first win, but Khalid Usman’s off-spin put a dent in their hopes as he accounted for Nasir Nawaz and Hasan in the fifth and ninth overs to reduce the batting side to 53 for three. What further hurt Northern was Khalid’s discipline – half of his 24 deliveries were dots as he finished with terrific figures of two for 16. Rohail Nazir (24 off 29) and Ali Imran (31 off 27) ignited hopes with a 48-run stand off 41 balls, but the partnership ended at the end of the 15th over with Rohail’s dismissal and five balls later Ali followed him to the pavilion.
Aamir Jamal’s 29 not out off 15 lifted Northern’s scoring rate towards the backend of the innings and with 15 required off the last six, he brought his side closer to the win, but Mohammad Imran defended the target. Sahibzada Farhan was the star of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s innings with a 45-ball 53 (two fours and three sixes) and was duly supported by wicketkeeper Mohammad Haris (33 off 27) from the other end. The opening pair put 83 runs in the first 10 overs that set the tone for the last 10 overs. Mohammad Sarwar Afridi, in the middle order, made 24 off 20, while Khalid contributed 19 off 14. Usman Khan Shinwari and Salman Irshad returned three for 26 and three for 38.