Half-centuries by opener Ali Imran and number three Zeeshan Malik spearheaded Northern’s sixth National T20 win which ensured a semi-final spot for the 2020 champions in the 26th match of the tournament played at the Gaddafi Stadium on Saturday night.
Wicketkeeper Rohail Nazir and Sohail Tanvir scored the required 15 off the first five balls of the final over bowled by Junaid Khan with the veteran Sohail depositing Junaid over the mid-wicket boundary to snatch a thrilling win for his side on the penultimate ball of the match.
Northern maintained their 100 percent record against Balochistan, this was their sixth win in as many matches against Balochistan since the National T20 was revamped as a six-team competition in 2020.
On Saturday night, Ali and Zeeshan combined for an 88-run match winning second-wicket partnership in Northern’s 186-run chase under the GSL lights.
Ali hit three fours and five sixes in his 45-ball 64 while Zeeshan scored 53 off 35 balls (six fours, two sixes). Ali added 60 runs in a blazing first-wicket stand with Nasir Nawaz who hit a typically aggressive 30 off 21 balls (three fours, one six).
Both Ali and Zeeshan fell in quick succession, Northern then lost Umar Amin and Aamir Jamal in search of boundaries as the asking rate soared. Umaid Asif produced a sensational penultimate over which went for a mere five runs including the wicket of Aamir.
The match had swung in Balochistan’s favour when the final over started, Rohail hit a four off the first ball before Sohail hit a four before his match winning six.
Earlier, Northern won the toss and opted to bowl. Balochistan opener Abdullah Shafique played a series of stunning shots in the powerplay overs as he added 51 runs for the first-wicket with Abdul Wahid Bangalzai (4).
Abdullah who was in supreme touch continued to assert his presence on the Northern bowlers, the right-hander reached the third fifty of his T20 career off 30 balls. He was eventually dismissed by Aamir for 73 off 44 balls (12 fours, one six).
Abdullah added 63 runs for the second-wicket with captain Imam-ul-Haq, the left-hander scored 50 off 39 balls (seven fours).
Sohail Akhtar (16) and Umaid Asif (17) hit some lusty blows in the death overs to take Balochistan to their 185 for seven total. Fast bowler Zaman Khan took three wickets for Northern.
Scores in Brief:
Northern win by five wickets
Balochistan 185 for 7, 20 overs (Abdullah Shafique 73, Imam-ul-Haq 50; Zaman Khan 3-31)
Northern 186 for 5, 19.5 overs (Ali Imran 64, Zeeshan Malik 53; Umaid Asif 2-31)
LPlayer of the match: Ali Imran
ATF Southern Punjab vs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa -3pm
Balochistan vs Home City Central Punjab -7:30pm