Ahmed shines as Lions clinch low-scoring game to reach finalArchive
KARACHI: Ahmed Shehzad made his first significant contribution in the Cool & Cool presents Haier Super 8 T20 Cup in the nick of time late on Sunday night as Lahore Lions qualified for the title-decider with a scratchy four-wicket win against Rawalpindi Rams in Faisalabad.
After restricting the Rams — winners of the inaugural Super 8 title in July 2011 — to a highly below par total of 100-8 in the second semi-final, it was the turn of Lions batsmen to struggle for runs on a sluggish Iqbal Stadium pitch.
Had Ahmed not anchored the Lions’ run chase, the Rams would have probably pulled off a sensational victory to set up a clash against Sialkot Stallions in the final. But the Lions somehow managed to sneak through largely due to the watchful knock of Ahmed who finished undefeated on 58.
Opting to bat first, when Sohail Tanvir had won the toss, proved fateful for the Rams as wickets tumbled regularly from the onset. Opener Khurram Shehzad was run out on the fourth ball of the match to set the tone for the rest of the innings.
Only five batsmen entered double figures against a tight Lions bowling line-up. Tayyab Riaz emerged as the highest scorer but when he was caught off slow left-armer Mustafa Iqbal for 22 (off 32 balls, two boundaries) the Rams had lost half their side for 51 in 11.2 overs.
Mohammad Nawaz (18 off 21 balls, two fours) had helped Tayyab put on 36 — the highest stand of the innings — after the Rams had slumped to 14-3 in the fourth over.
All-rounders Hammad Azam and Sohail both scored 12 apiece with each man striking a six while adding 26 before Sohail was run out in the 16th over and Hammad followed his captain back in the dugout in the same over.
Wicket-keeper Jamal Anwar remained not out with a run-a-ball 10 while ensuring his side lasted the entire 20-over quota.
Discarded Test seamer Aizaz Cheema and Mustafa claimed two wickets each.
The Lions chase began on the worst possible note when skipper Kamran Akmal was trapped by talented slow left-armer Mohammad Asghar for a first-ball duck in the second over.
Ahmed and fellow international Nasir Jamshed, one of five specialist openers in the Lions playing XI, restored parity as the pair forged together the best partnership of the game — 59 from 50 deliveries — before the left-handed Nasir fell to the let-arm spin of Samiullah for a 23-ball 26 (three fours).
The Lions lost three more wickets in the space of next 17 balls, including those of big guns Mohammad Hafeez and Umar Akmal, to find themselves at 83-5 in the 16th over. Hafeez was caught by Hammad off his own bowling for one, while Umar met a similar fate when he also perished for one, giving Mohammad Amir a return catch.
But as long as Ahmed was there, the Lions’ dream of making it to the T20 Champions League stayed alive until Monday evening and the Pakistan opener didn’t let his side down as he ended up hitting seven boundaries in his 57-ball man-of-the-match effort.
However, the honour of striking the winning runs fell to Mustafa who heaved Sohail at the start of the final of the game for six.
Khurram Shehzad run out 1
Naved Malik b Qaiser 9
Tayyab Riaz c Qaiser b Mustafa 22
Zahid Mansoor c Imam b Aizaz 0
Mohammad Nawaz c sub b Hafeez 18
Hammad Azam c Nasir b Mustafa 12
Sohail Tanvir run out 12
Jamal Anwar not out 10
Mohammad Amir c Ahmed b Aizaz 5
Samiullah not out 6
EXTRAS (LB-1, W-2, NB-2) 5
TOTAL (for eight wkts, 20 overs) 100
FALL OF WKTS: 1-1, 2-13, 3-14, 4-50, 5-51, 6-77, 7-77, 8-85.
DID NOT BAT: Mohammad Asghar.
BOWLING: Qaiser Ashraf 4-0-13-1 (1w); Aizaz Cheema 4-0-21-2; Imran Ali 4-0-19-0 (1w); Mohammad Hafeez 4-0-20-1; Mustafa Iqbal 4-0-26-2 (1nb).
Ahmed Shehzad not out 58
Kamran Akmal lbw b Asghar 0
Nasir Jamshed c Khurram b Samiullah 26
Mohammad Hafeez c and b Hammad 1
Umar Akmal c and b Amir 1
Saad Nasim c Jamal b Hammad 8
Imam-ul-Haq c Amir b Samiullah 3
Mustafa Iqbal not out 7
EXTRAS (LB-1) 1
TOTAL (for six wkts, 19.1 overs) 105
FALL OF WKTS: 1-8, 2-67, 3-71, 4-72, 5-83, 6-98.
DID NOT BAT: Qaiser Ashraf, Imran Ali, Aizaz Cheema.
BOWLING: Sohail Tanvir 1.1-0-13-0; Mohammad Asghar 4-0-18-1; Mohammad Nawaz 1-0-11-0; Mohammad Amir 4-0-20-1; Zahid Mansoor 1-0-6-0; Samiullah 4-0-21-2; Hammad Azam 4-0-15-2.
RESULT: Lahore Lions won by four wickets.
UMPIRES: Ahsan Raza and Ahmed Shahab.
TV UMPIRE: Shozab Raza.
MATCH REFEREE: Mohammad Anees.
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Ahmed Shehzad.
Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2015
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