Haseeb powers Warriors to PJL playoffs as Hunters are eliminated

LAHORE-Haseeb Khan produced a superb unbeaten 49 off 39 to guide Mardan Warriors to a 4-wicket victory in a tense last over chase against Hyderabad Hunters in match 10 of the Pakistan Junior League at the Gaddafi Stadium on Thursday night. 
The win – Warriors’ third in four matches – confirmed their playoff berth. Hunters who endured a fourth straight loss in as many matches have become the first side to be eliminated from the playoffs race. Haseeb combined for an unbroken 47-run seventh-wicket alliance with wicketkeeper Daud Nazar (23*) to defy the Hunters who fought hard despite a low score (128-6). Daud Nazar finished the match off with a four and six off the first two balls of the final over to seal his side’s victory.
Warriors began their 129-run chase on the backfoot as Ali Naseer followed his batting brilliance to knock over George Thomas for a duck in the first over of the Warriors’ reply. He then removed Olly Cox (5) in his second over and then captain Abbas Ali (3) in his third over. Ali’s sensational burst left Warriors wobbling at 37-3 at the end of five overs.
Warriors’ middle-order struggled to get the scoreboard moving. Off-spinner Haseeb-ur-Rehman took the vital wicket of Shahzaib Khan (33 off 35) to end a 29-run fourth-wicket stand between him and Haseeb Khan. M Nabeel was dismissed for a golden duck which left Warriors reeling at 71-5 at the end of 12 overs. The situation worsened for the Warriors when Archie Lenham (4) was dismissed hit-wicket off Muhammad Zubair Jnr.
Warriors needed 38 off the last 24 balls. Haseeb and Daud took 10 runs off the 17th over bowled by Muneeb Wasif. Haseeb hit a big six off Dubs Wood in the 18th over as the Warriors managed 10 more runs in the over. Ali conceded 12 runs in the 19th over including a dropped chance that went for four off Haseeb’s bat. Ali finished with 3-38 in four overs. Zubair took two while Haseeb took one wicket.
Earlier, it was Ali’s unbeaten 54 that kept the Hunters in the hunt after a top and middle-order failure saw them reduced to 65-6 in 11.5 overs. Ali found able support from Zubair as the two added 63 runs in their unbroken partnership to help their side reach 128-6. Zubair scored unbeaten 8 runs. 
Lenham and M Irfan took two wickets apiece. Abidullah and Aimal Khan picked a wicket apiece in their fiery opening bursts. Hunters’ openers Saad Baig (captain) and Afaq Khan perished for ducks. Arbaz Khan scored 22 while Moiz Rana contributed 17 runs.

Scores in brief

MARDAN WARRIORS 133-6, 19.2 overs (Haseeb Khan 49*, Shahzaib Khan 33; Ali Naseer 3-38, M Zubair Jnr 2-18) beat HYDERABAD HUNTERS 128-6, 20 overs (Ali Naseer 54; M Irfan 2-17, Archie Lenham 2-24) by 4 wickets. 

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