KARACHI - Peshawar’s 10-match winning streak finally came to an end as they faced a thumping defeat at the hands of Abbottabad in the first semifinal of the National T20 Cup 2023-24.
Yasir Shah-led Abbottabad secured a berth in the final of National T20 Cup for the first time after storming to a seven-wicket victory with 13 balls to spare. Abbottabad’s chase was built around immaculate striking by openers Fakhar Zaman and Sajjad Ali Jnr, both of whom hit a combined 12 sixes. The first-wicket stand yielded 113 runs in quick time, putting the pressure on the Peshawar bowlers. Sajjad smashed his third fifty on the trot, taking a special liking to Peshawar captain Iftikhar Ahmed’s bowling as he deposited him for four maximums in one over. Mohammad Imran ended his stay at the crease after he accumulated 57 in 29 balls with seven sixes and a solitary four. Next batter in, Kamran Ghulam, was dismissed cheaply for four but Fakhar continued to unleash lusty blows to motor the chase. He made unbeaten 79 off 46 balls, steadied with five maximums and eight boundaries.
Abbottabad’s winning runs also came off a six that Afaq Ahmed struck Abbas Ali over long-off, emblematic of the team’s dominance. Imran was the only Peshawar bowler who threatened the opposition as he gave away 18 runs in his four overs including one wicket. Earlier in the day, Abbottabad’s decision to bowl first reaped rewards as leading run-getter of the tournament Sahibzada Farhan (15) was removed early by Aqib Khan. Left-arm pacer Shahab Khan then got the big wickets of Mohammad Haris (16) and Iftikhar Ahmed (0) in his first over to leave Peshawar 75-4.
Israrullah then launched a brilliant counterattack, smoking 10 fours and three sixes in his 34-ball 73 at a strike rate in excess of 210. However, Israrullah found little support at the other end as no other batter crossed the 20-run mark. Shahab ran through the Peshawar line-up, bagging five scalps – his second five-fer of the competition. He was duly named player of the match. Meanwhile, Karachi Whites beat Rawalpindi to set the final clash against Abbottabad.