LAHORE - Khyber Pakhtunkhwa continued their excellent run in the Kingdom Valley National T20 Cup 2022-23 recording their fourth straight victory after defeating Southern Punjab by 7 wickets at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in a contest reduced to five overs because of wet outfield. 

In the second match of the day, Hussain Talat’s 3-17 pipped Sohail Tanvir’s highest T20 score (74 not out) in Balochistan’s third triumph of the tournament. Following the completion of the 12th match, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are perched at the top of the table and are followed by Balochistan, who have six points from three wins. With four points – coming from two wins – Southern Punjab and Sindh are placed at third and fourth. Northern are fifth with one win, while winless Central Punjab are placed at the bottom. 

Left-arm pacer Mohammad Imran made the most of the variations in his arsenal and denied any scoring opportunities to Southern Punjab batters as his 12 balls leaked only 13 runs and accounted for Hassan Khan. Southern Punjab, asked to bat, could muster 41 runs for the loss of four wickets in five overs, which, in the end, proved to be a cakewalk for defending champions Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Aamer Azmat, unbeaten on 14 off 10, dragged Khyber Pakhtunkhwa over the line with three balls spare and seven wickets in hand. Right-arm pacer, Mohammad Ilyas, accounted for Sahibzada Farhan and Sarwar Afridi and was the only bowler in the match to take two wickets. 

Hussain Talat dismissed Rohail Nazir and Umar Amin in the sixth over and sent Hasan Nawaz packing in the eighth over in an extraordinary batting collapse that formed the basis of Balochistan’s third win of the tournament. Sohail Tanvir registered his highest T20 score with 74 off 42 and hit six sixes and three fours, but such was the magnitude of the top order collapse that it couldn’t save Northern.

Aamir Jamal with 35 off 21 was the other batter to show some resistance but all Northern could manage was 162 for seven. Hussain returned three for 17, while his fellow pacer Khurram Shahzad picked up two wickets for 28. It was a solid half-century at the top of the order from Haseebullah and blistering knocks from Shan Masood (45 not out at a strike rate of 155) and Haris Sohail (34 at a strike rate of 179) that lifted Balochistan to 181 for three after they were asked to bat.

Haseebullah and Asad Shafiq (34 off 28) added 62 runs for the first wicket in 8.4 overs. Young Haseebullah continued to play the anchor’s role till he was dismissed by Sohail Tanvir on the first ball of the 15th over. Balochistan were 109 at that point. Shan and Haris made their experience count and added 72 runs at a run rate of over 11. Shan hit six fours in his 29-ball knock and Haris’ 19-ball innings was studded with four fours and a six.

Scores in brief

KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA 44-3, 4.3 overs (Aamer Azmat 14*; Mohammad Ilyas 2-14; Sameen Gul 1-15) beat SOUTHERN PUNJAB 41-4, 5 overs (Mohammad Ilyas 13*; Imran Khan Sr 1-12, Mohammad Imran 1-13) by 7 wickets. 

BALOCHISTAN 181-3, 20 overs (Haseebullah 52, Shan Masood 45*, Haris Sohail 34*, Asad Shafiq 34) beat NORTHERN 162-7, 20 overs (Sohail Tanvir 74*, Aamir Jamal 35; Hussain Talat 3-17, Khurram Shahzad 2-28) by 19 runs.