LAHORE - Three wickets off three balls (one run-out) from Mehran Mumtaz’s first over and 40 unbeaten runs from Sohail Tanvir proved game changer for Northern as they beat Southern Punjab by 3 runs to qualify for semifinal in the 30th fixture of National T20 Cup 2022-23 at Multan Cricket Stadium on Saturday.  

Southern Punjab, set a modest 130-run target by Northern, were well in course to achieve the target as they were 58-2 at the end of the ninth over. Introduction of Mehran in the 10th over put brakes on their run-chase as he got Salman Ali Agha lbw on the first ball, the next ball he sent Sharoon Siraj lbw without troubling the score while on a hat-trick ball, the direct throw from Usman Shinwari was enough to send back non-striker Sohaib Maqsood to the pavilion. 

After the quick dismissals of Southern Punjab’s batters, Northern were never in position to stage a comeback. Hasan Ali (26*) struck two sixes and one four to give Southern Punjab a glimpse of hope, but they fell four runs shy of the target and were sent packing from the tournament. Mehran, Usman Shinwari and Zaman Khan bagged two wickets apiece. In the first semifinal, table toppers Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will take on Northern, while Sindh will face Central Punjab in the second.

Earlier, after a 15-minute delayed start due to dust storm, Umar Amin’s decision to bat first didn’t go down well as Northern wobbled at the top of the innings when they slumped to 83-7 in the 15th over. Northern managed to score over 100, largely because of a 37-run partnership for the eighth wicket between Usman (21) and Tanvir (40*). 

Northern made 129-8 from their allotted 20 overs. Hasan was dispatched for a six by Nasir Nawaz on the first ball, but the right-arm fast made a strong comeback to get Taimoor Sultan lbw for four on the last ball of his first over. M Ilyas was amongst the wickets again as he took 3-29. 

Defending champions KP won six matches to make their way to the semifinal stage. Sindh, Central Punjab and Northern – all three also qualified for the semifinal were tied on 10 points from 10 matches, but put them ahead of Balochistan (on net run-rate). Southern Punjab managed to win four matches and languished at the bottom of the table with 8 points.

Scores in brief

NORTHERN 129-8, 20 overs (Sohail Tanvir 40*, Usman Khan Shinwari 21; M Ilyas 3-29, Ali Majid 2-29, Hasan Ali 2-30) beat SOUTHERN PUNJAB 126-7, 20 overs (Hasan Ali 26*, Umar Siddiq 24; Mehran Mumtaz 2-17, Zaman Khan 2-17, Usman Khan Shinwari 2-31) by 3 runs.