In a high-scoring game, South Punjab were undone by Balochistan to fall to their fourth straight loss, while Northern made it four wins in four thanks to a half-century from Zeeshan Malik.
Balochistan beat Southern Punjab by 7 wickets
Southern Punjab’s winless run at the National T20 Cup continued, with Shan Masood’s side falling to a 16-run defeat against Balochistan. In a high-scoring contest, Balochistan put up the second highest total of the competition, amassing 230 in 20 overs, thanks largely to a 54-ball 94 from Imam-ul-Haq and a half-century from captain Haris Sohail.
Southern Punjab’s death bowling and fielding let them down badly, with the home side conceding 91 in the final five overs. Bilawal Bhatti, who gave away two free hits in a final over that cost 21, was the most expensive, being hammered for 61 in four wicketless overs.
Southern Punjab made a fist of the chase despite the early loss of the dangerous Zeeshan Ashraf, removed by the veteran Umar Gul, who enjoyed a decent spell with the new ball. Sohaib Maqsood holed out to Amad Butt, but a sparkling 103-run partnership between Masood and Khushdil Shah followed that threatened to run Balochistan very close. Both managed 72, off 42 and 32 balls respectively, but when Masood fell, the asking rate still hovered around 13, and was hard to stay on top of despite some loose bowling and generosity from Balochistan in the field.
Khushdil fell after a lengthy and controversial discussion over whether bowler Akif Javed – who took three crucial wickets towards the end – had overstepped the front line, but once that call went Balochistan’s way, Southern Punjab’s hopes evaporated. This means they remain the only side not to have picked up any points yet, having lost all four games.
Northen beat Sindh by 13 runs
A whirlwind 84 from Zeeshan Malik ensured Northern maintained their perfect start to the National T20 Cup against Sindh, winning a fourth successive game by 13 runs. The opener combined for a 50-run partnership with Ali Imran, before a more destructive 89-run stand with Haider Ali set his side up for yet another 200-plus total. Haider’s 22-ball 35 ensured the momentum was firmly with the defending champions as they headed to the death overs, and while Sohail Khan got rid of Malik and, before he could do too much damage, skipper Shadab Khan, cameos lower down the order meant Sindh had a stiff chase on their hands.
But Northern would get off to the perfect start with the ball when Sharjeel Khan was dismissed for a golden duck by Haris Rauf, whose wicket-taking ability continued to pay dividends for his side. A breezy half-century by Azam Khan kept Sindh in the game, and while Khurram Manzoor top-scored with 64, it came off 52 balls, and Sindh required a better strike-rate than that. The asking rate continued to climb as Northern’s spinners chipped in with wickets, Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan combining for four. Anwar Ali briefly kept Sindh interested with seven boundaries in a 17-ball 37, but Northern would remain just out of reach.