LAHORE - An unbeaten 42-run partnership off just 18 balls from Anwar Ali and Omair Bin Yousuf helped Sindh beat Central Punjab by five wickets in the second semi-final of Kingdom Valley National T20 2022-23 at the Multan Cricket Stadium on Sunday evening.

Requiring 25 runs from two overs to win in pursuit of 180-run target, right-handed Anwar dispatched Ahmed Daniyal for three sixes and a four to collect 24 runs in the penultimate over. He returned undefeated on a 13-ball 32, studded with two fours and three sixes. Omair Bin Yousuf – who struck the winning six with four balls to spare scored an unbeaten 51 off 36, hitting four fours and one six.

Central Punjab’s Usama Mir bagged two wickets for 30 runs – both wickets in the 11th over of the innings which included the prized scalp of Sindh’s opening batter Saim Ayub who looked dangerous before getting out scoring a 24-ball 46, smashing four sixes and three fours.

Earlier, the decision to bat first from Qasim Akram paid dividends as Central Punjab’s opening batters went berserk from the start and scored 77 runs in the powerplay – the most runs in this edition. Wicketkeeper-batter Muhammad Akhlaq was the first one to return to the pavilion in the seventh over not before scoring 28 off 15 balls, which included four towering sixes. The pair of Akhlaq and Mohammad Faizan knitted a 78-run partnership off 38 balls.

Faizan didn’t stop there and continued to play big shots and brought up Central Punjab’s 100 in the 10th over – the fastest 100 of the ongoing tournament. Faizan top-scored for his side, scoring 52 off 31 balls and smoked six fours and three sixes at a staggering strike rate of 167.74. Qasim (25, 18b, three fours) and experienced Shoaib Malik (nine off 10, one four) failed to make an impact in Central Punjab’s batting and went in quick succession.

That the Central Punjab were able to score 179 for eight in 20 overs was due to Irfan Khan Niazi’s unbeaten knock of 36 from 27 balls, which included two fours and as many sixes. Sindh’s Zahid Mehmood was the most successful bowler for his side with match figures of 4-0-20-4.

Scores in brief

SINDH 185-5, 19.2 overs (Omair Bin Yousuf 51*, Saim Ayub 46, Anwar Ali 32*; Usama Mir 2-30) beat CENTRAL PUNJAB 179-8, 20 overs (Mohammad Faizan 52, Irfan Khan Niazi 36*; Zahid Mehmood 4-20) by 5 wickets.