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Gohar, Farhan help Faisalabad stun KW in National T20 opener

Gohar, Farhan help Faisalabad stun KW in National T20 opener

KARACHI: The Cool & Cool National T20 Cup got off to a blazing start in Rawalpindi on Saturday when career-best knocks from Gohar Ali and Sahibzada Farhan powered Faisalabad to a crushing eight-wicket victory over Sarfraz Ahmed-led Karachi Whites at the Pindi Cricket Stadium.

In the day’s other fixture, involving two Lahore teams, the Blues pulled of a thrilling one-run victory against the Whites after Pakistan pace ace Mohammad Amir hobbled off the field with a leg injury. Test opener Sami Aslam stood out with a brilliant 91 not out but his heroics were in vain.

Faisalabad, who were led by former Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, made easy meal of their181-run chase against Karachi Whites largely due to a magnificent platform laid by openers, Gohar and Farhan, who put on 108 in just 69 deliveries while showing no respect to a decent bowling line-up spearheaded by T20 specialist Rumman Raees Khan.

Sami Aslam stars in losing cause for Lahore Whites

Gohar, the 28-year-old wicket-keeper/batsman from Nowshera, outscored his partner as he maintained an incredible strike-rate of exactly 200 by bludgeoning 10 fours and three sixes to score 70 from only 35 balls before an attempted reverse-sweep against spinner Danish Aziz ended his innings.

Farhan, a 21-year-old right-hander from Charsadda, accelerated after Gohar was dismissed to finish on an unbeaten 76 on just his second T20 appearance. His 52-ball contribution, featuring six fours and four sixes, earned him the man-of-the-match award as Faisalabad collected 183-2 to get home with 10 balls to spare.

Earlier, Karachi Whites reached 180-5 on the back of half-centuries from the experience duo of Khurram Manzoor (55 off 48 balls, five boundaries) and Akbar-ur-Rehman (60 off 39, four fours and three sixes).

Haris Sohail also made his presence felt with a 15-ball cameo of 28 after Khurram and Asad Shafiq, who struck five boundaries in an 18-ball 27, added 61 for the first wicket in 39 balls.

Pace-bowling all-rounder Fahim Ashraf was the pick of Faisalabad’s bowlers with figures of 3-36 while taking all three wickets in the last over of the Whites’ innings, including the scalp of his national team skipper Sarfraz, who sacrificed his wicket while trying to sweep the last ball of the innings.

Fahim’s final over not only saw those wickets falling but crucially only three singles were scored.

Meanwhile, Lahore Whites did well to restrict the star-studded Lahore Blues to 169-5 after Salman Butt opted to emulate Ajmal earlier in the day by electing to field first.

Imam-ul-Haq top-scored with a 32-ball 44 as the left-hander hit four fours and a brace of sixes. Babar Azam accumulated a 28-ball 33 while skipper Mohammad Hafeez provided the late flourish with a 24-ball 35.

Amir then rocked Lahore Whites’ start with the wickets of the experienced Kamran Akmal — who had no answer to an unplayable second ball of the first over and only managed to edge the ball onto the stumps — and Salman. The Whites skipper was declared caught behind after umpires Faisal Afridi and Imtiaz Iqbal decided to take the matter to TV official Shozab Raza.

Despite those setbacks, man-of-the-match Sami prospered to play a series of brilliant strokes. The left-hander distorted Ghulam Mudassar’s otherwise tidy spell by stroking the left-arm pacer for 20 runs in the 18th over to bring down the equation.

Amir then took a blow above his right ankle when Aamir Yamin went for a drive down the ground before Hussain Talat held his cool in the final over of the match — which began with Whites requiring a dozen runs — to seal a dramatic win for the Blues.

Saturday’s results:

Lahore Blues beat Lahore Whites by one run.

LAHORE BLUES 169-5 in 20 overs (Imam-ul-Haq 44, Mohammad Hafeez 35, Babar Azam 33); LAHORE WHITES 168-5 un 20 overs (Sami Aslam 91 not out, Raza Ali Dar 40; Mohammad Amir 2-24, Ghulam Mudassar 2-33).

Faisalabad beat Karachi Whites by eight wickets.

KARACHI WHITES 180-5 in 20 overs (Akbar-ur-Rehman 60, Khurram Manzoor 55, Haris Sohail 28, Asad Shafiq 27; Fahim Ashraf 3-36); FAISALABAD 183-2 in 18.2 overs (Sahibzada Farhan 76 not out, Gohar Ali 70, Sohaib Maqsood 21).

Sunday’s fixtures: Peshawar vs Fata (12:00noon); Rawalpindi vs Islamabad (4:00pm).

Published in Dawn, November 12th, 2017

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