RAWALPINDI: An unbeaten 42-ball 80 by right-handed batsman Sohaib Maqsood guided Faisalabad Region to a seven-wicket win over Lahore Blues in the fifth match of National Twenty20 Cup at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium here on Monday. After being invited to bat first, Lahore were helped by left-handed opener Imamul Haq’s 50 off 31 balls to a total of 187-5. Babar Azam and Hussain Talat also made important contributions of 45 and 43 respectively. Faisalabad off-spinner Saeed Ajmal bagged three wickets for his team, leaking away just 26 runs in his four overs. Faisalabad, in their chase, were given a good start by opener Sahibzada Farhan (58 off 44 balls), but Maqsood later came in and hit seven sixes and three fours to see his team past the finish line. Asif Ali, on the other side, scored 42 off just 17 balls courtesy five fours and three sixes to help Maqsood and Faisalabad. Off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez, Khalid Usman and Hussain Talat bagged one wicket each for Lahore Blues.

In the day’s second match, Lahore Whites’ middle order did just about enough to sneak past Karachi Whites target of 164 to complete a tight three-wicket win. Lahore began their chase strong, after openers Kamran Akmal (52) and Sami Aslam (56) put on 93 in 9.3 overs, but a collapse triggered by Karachi bowlers Zulfiqar Babar, Rumman Raees and Anwar Ali saw the game go into the final over. Needing eight to win off six balls, Aamer Yamin and Amad Butt struck boundaries off the second and fourth ball of the 20th to seal a three-wicket win for Lahore. Earlier, Karachi posted 163 for 8 courtesy Khurram Manzoor’s 43-ball 64 at the top. Asad Shafiq was out for two and Haris Sohail could add only 17 as their score read 95 for 3 after 12 overs. Sarfraz Ahmed scored a brisk 26-ball 39 towards the end of the innings, but Umaid Asif’s inexpensive spell – 3 for 18 off four overs – ensured Karachi total would always be in reach for Lahore.

Published in Daily Times, November 14th 2017.

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