LAHORE - Lahore Blues joined Lahore Whites in the National Twenty20 Cup to make it all-Lahore final after both the teams registered contrastive victories in the semifinals played at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadiums on Wednesday.

Both the semifinals were conducted on the same day and at the same stadium, with the first match getting an early start to accommodate the second one, which was played under the lights. The matches had earlier been delayed after a tense security situation in the country because of the sit-in in the Faizabad area of the federal capital.

In the second semifinal, record-breaking Ahmed Shehzad powered Lahore Blues to final. Shehzad hit his fourth T20 hundred to help Lahore Blues beat Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) by 10 runs in a high-scoring semi-final. Shehzad, 23, hit an unbeaten 104 off 59 balls with the help of 13 fours and two sixes, as Lahore set Fata a 222-run target. Imam-ul-Haq (62 off 42) and skipper M Hafeez (52 off 19) helped the opener in his cause. Despite brilliant knocks from Mukhtar Ahmed (47 off 22)and Khushdil Shah's fighting half-century (56 off 32), Lahore won the match. They will play Lahore Whites in tomorrow's final at Rawalpindi.

Unbeaten 104 helped him become the only player to hit three centuries in a T20 knockout/playoff game. The right-handed batsman is also the only Pakistani batsman to have score a T20I hundred, and one of the few players with hundreds in all three formats of the game.

Earlier in the first semifinal, Salman Butt-led Lahore Whites defeated Saeed Ajmal-led Faisalabad by 10 runs. Put into bat first, Lahore Whites set a target of 143 runs with openers Kamran Akmal and Salman Butt contributing heavily with 30 off 22 and 40 off 23. They struck a 69-partnership in seven overs before Akmal was caught-behind off Imran Khalid’s bowling. Earlier, both the openers had registered a record for the highest opening-partnership with an unbeaten 209-run stand against Islamabad in the group-stage.

None of the Lahore Whites’ batsmen below them put up a profound performance. Umar Akmal, who batted at one-drop, struck run-a-ball 35. He was at 16 off 28 balls at one stage which hampered his side from putting up a big total. Faisalabad captain Ajmal captured 1-13 in four overs in what was the last match of his cricketing career.

Faisalabad lost their first wicket in the second over for nine runs when Sahibzada Farhan handed an easy catch to Umar Akmal off Ehsan Adil’s bowling. Sohaib Maqsood partnered with Gohar Ali, who was dropped at third-man earlier in the innings, for a 37-run second-wicket stand which brought the batting side back in the contest.

The partnership ended when Wahab Riaz got Ali in the sixth over. With both openers back in the pavilion for 46 runs, Maqsood kept his side’s hopes of securing a berth in the final alive, but they were shattered with the Multan-born falling in the 11th over to Aamir Yamin.

Imran Khalid tried to get Faisalabad’s chase back on track with his 12-ball 24 but his stay at the crease ended on the first ball of the penultimate over, bowled by Umaid Asif. The lanky bowler got rid of Yasir Shah a ball later which proved to be the final nail in the coffin.