George Thomas produced his second fifty of the Pakistan Junior League to spearhead a five-wicket win for Mardan Warriors against Bahawalpur Royals in the seventh match of the tournament under the Gaddafi Stadium, lights on Monday.
Set a 146-run target, Warriors mentored by Pakistan legend Shahid Afridi, had to withstand a spirited fight back by Royals who took three quick wickets to cause a stutter in the chase following a formidable start by the Warriors.
Warriors’ prolific opening pair of George Thomas and Shahzaib Khan provided their team an excellent platform with a 78-run partnership in 9.3 overs. The two took the attack to the Royals bowlers in their stroke-filled alliance. The two had added 101 runs in the tournament opener against Gujranwala Giants.
Off-spinner Arham Nawab provided the much needed breakthrough for the Royals when he had Shahzaib caught and bowled for 32 (31 balls, five fours). Thomas completed his 50 off 31 balls and continued to attack in the 25-run second-wicket partnership with Olly Cox which was broken when Cox holed out to Nangeyalia Kharote for 12 (12 balls).
Royals clawed back in the game with three quick strikes, Mohammad Farooq was sent packing for seven by Arham while pacer Mohammad Zeeshan ended Thomas’ innings by having him caught by Arham for 58 (39 balls, six fours, two sixes). Zeeshan bowled a hostile 18th over in which he got rid of Haseeb Khan for six while conceding a mere run which left Warriors needing 18 off the last 12 balls.
Captain Abbas Ali and Daud Nazar took 13 runs off the 19th over bowled by Sajjad Ali amid some fielding lapses by the Royals fielder.
Daud finished the match with a six straight down the ground off the first ball of the final over bowled by Nathan Edward.
Earlier, Warriors won the toss and opted to bowl. In-form pacer Mohammad Nabeel made the big strike in his opening over (second of the match). Royals’ opener Basit Ali who scored the first century in PJL history on Saturday was dismissed for nine off seven balls.
Captain Obaid Shahid added 45 runs for the second-wicket with Ali Razzaq. Obaid was dismissed by his opposite number Abbas for 15. Razzaq hit seven fours in his 44 (43 balls, seven fours), he was dismissed by Haseeb Khan in an attempt of upping the scoring rate, he returned to the dressing room with the total at 77 (14 overs).
The Royals succeeded in breaking the stranglehold in the final six overs as 68 runs were scored. The impetus was provided by Farhan Yousaf with an unbeaten 24 off 13 (three fours, one six). Nangeyalia remained unbeaten on 14. Shawaiz Irfan scored a run-a-ball 26 before Farhan’s cameo.
Abbas, Haseeb, Abidullah and Nabeel took a wicket apiece for the Warriors.