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Bahawalpur shock Lahore Blues to reach main round

Bahawalpur shock Lahore Blues to reach main round

RAWALPINDI: Bahawalpur, inspired by another superlative Faisal Mubashir innings, caused a major upset when they sealed a place in the main round of the Cool & Cool presents Haier T20 Cup at the Pindi Cricket Stadium with arousing six-wicket defeat of Lahore Blues here on Saturday.

The first semi-final of the qualifying round between the Group ‘A’ winners and the runners-up from Group ‘B’ almost proved a cliff-hanger and Lahore Blues were left to rue lapses in the field that ultimately competing in the main tournament that starts from Tuesday.

Thus, unexpected exit of the Blues means that Lahore will only represented by Lahore Whites in the Sept 8-15 competition in which the country’s top stars will be seen in action.

When this report was being filed, the other semi-final between Group ‘B’ champions Karachi Blues and Group ‘A’ runners-up Quetta was in progress with the winners set to qualify for main round of the tournament.

Faisal, touted as a future Pakistan player, yet again played a huge role in Bahawalpur’s remarkable turnaround. With just one player in skipper Kamran Hussain who had played at the international level, Bahawalpur were the underdogs against a Lahore Blues side containing several internationals — including out-of-favour Test wicket-keeper Adnan Akmal — and some on fringe of Pakistan team.

After restricting Lahore Blues, who had opted to bat first at the toss, to 152-8 with a creditable effort in the field, Bahawalpur batted with great commonsense to get over the line with three balls remaining.

Faisal, having made 66 and 79 without being dismissed in the first two matches, held the Bahawalpur innings together to finish on 51 not out from 37 balls. His man-of-the-match contribution included four fours and one six.

Shahan Akram (22 off 19 balls, two sixes and two fours) and Mohammad Yasir (24 off 13, four fours and one six) provided an quick start of 36 in the opening four overs.

Kamran, who appeared in two One-day Internationals against Zimbabwe seven years ago, providing the finishing touches with 27 off 17 balls (three fours and one six) as the match-winning partnership yielded 51 runs.

Late on Friday night Quetta moved into the semi-final round after the unbeaten Lahore Blues side chalked up a five-wicket win against fellow contenders Larkana, who like Quetta and Azad Jammu Kashmir ended with just one win in three matches.

Larkana’s net run-rate of -0.710 was slightly inferior to that of second-placed Quetta’s -0.609.

After skipper Adnan Akmal, for a change opted to field first after winning the toss, Larkana failed to press home their advantage and collected 146-5 after being poised for a bigger total when they had advanced to 123-1.

Opener Bilal Irshad hit a career-best 45 while helping Zafar Ali give their team a strong start of 56. Zafar struck run-a-ball 30 (two fours and one six) while Bilal also managed two fours and a six during his 47-ball knock.

Asif Babar played the bright innings for the minnows with a swashbuckling effort of 39 off only 26 deliveries. He blasted three sixes and three fours.

Imam-ul-Haq then produced another high-class performance as the bespectacled nephew of former Pakistan batting legend and ex-national captain Inzamam-ul-Haq effortlessly strolled to a career-best 67 in the run chase.

Lahore Blues, rather unnecessarily, lost a couple of wickets through carelessness. The left-handed Imam was left stranded when batting partner Mohammad Waheed failed to budge and found Imam standing next to him.

Visibly irritated at his dismissal, Imam admonished himself on his way back to the pavilion before Mohammad Saeed struck the winning run via a boundary with three balls left.

Abid Ali earlier dominated the opening stand of 42 with a 17-ball 24. He slammed two sixes and as many fours.

Saturday’s qualifying-round result:

First semi-final:

Bahawalpur beat Lahore Blues by six wickets.

LAHORE BLUES 152-8 in 20 overs (Imam-ul-Haq 39, Sami Aslam 35, Mohammad Akhlaq 26; Shahan Akram 2-19, Mohammad Imran 2-20); BAHAWALPUR 153-4 in 19.3 overs (Faisal Mubashir 51 not out, Kamran Hussain 27 not out, Mohammad Yasir 24, Shahan Akram 22).

Friday’s remaining result:

Group ‘A’:

Lahore Blues beat Larkana by five wickets.

LARKANA 146-5 in 20 overs (Bilal Irshad 45, Asif Babar 39, Zafar Ali 30); LAHORE BLUES 150-5 in 19.3 overs (Imam-ul-Haq 67, Fahad-ul-Haq 29, Abid Ali 24; Ali Asghar 2-24).

Final Group ‘B’ standings

(Tabulated under: played, won, lost, tied, no result, points, net run-rate):

Lahore Blues 3 3 0 0 0 6 +2.264 Quetta 3 1 2 0 0 2 -0.609 Larkana 3 1 2 0 0 2 -0.710 AJK 3 1 2 0 0 2 -1.000

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2015

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