RAWALPINDI - Lahore Lions will take on Faisalabad Wolves in the final of the Faysal Bank Twenty20 Tournament for Regions.
Lahore Lions outclassed Islamabad Leopards by 79 runs in the first semi-final played here at the Pindi Cricket Stadium while Faisalabad brushed aside Abbottabad Falcons by 51 runs in the second semifinal to set final clash against Lahore.
Islamabad skipper Zohaib Ahmed committed a huge blunder by inviting Lahore to bat first in perfect batting conditions. Lahore openers Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shahzad, taking full advantage of the opportunity, gave a solid start to Lahore. Nasir was very harsh on Islamabad bowlers and cracked 33-ball 60 runs hitting eight fours and two sixes. Islamabad finally managed to break the partnership when Nasir was sent to the pavilion by Babar Azam.
Hafeez then came to carry on the momentum and hit some delightful strokes to all corners of the park and smashed 32-ball 51, studied with three fours and four sixes, while Ahmed Shahzad also batted well for his 41-ball 42 hitting four fours. Lahore Lions posted a huge total of 188-4 in the allotted 20 overs. Baber Azam and Zohaib took a wicket apiece.
Islamabad started run-chase in the worst possible fashion losing their first wicket at just four runs while the second at 23, third at 29, fourth at 45, fifth at 60, sixth at 61 and seventh at 63, as the entire team was bowled out for 109 in 18.4 overs.
Despite having the backing of pack to capacity crowd, who were cheering for the local side, Islamabad failed to deliver. There was hardly any planning witnessed from the Leopards, who had played brilliant cricket in the event.
M Irfan was the top run getter for Islamabad scoring 26 in 22 balls while Umar Gul contributed 22 and Imad Wasim 18. M Hafeez clinched two wickets for eight runs while Imran Ali, AIzaz Cheema and Adnan RAsool also got two wickets each. Hafeez was named player of the match.
It was a regulation victory for Faisalabad, who were never in trouble. Poor decision made by umpire Imran Khalid of giving out LBW to Yasir Hameed, despite the replays clearly indicated the ball was missing leg stump, signaled the end of Abbottabad Falcons run chase, who started to chase 187 runs victory target in a positive note. Yasir was given LBW at 41.
Abbottabad kept on losing wickets at crucial stages, even Younus Khan also failed to shine when it needed the most as Abbottabad were restricted to 135-7. Adnan Raees made unbeaten 30 while Hammad Ali 25 and Yasir Hameed 23. Ehsan Adil bagged 2-12 while Saeed AJmal got 2-15. Farrukh Shahzad was adjudged as player of the match.
Despite making tall claims of keeping close check and balance on umpiring by PCB Director Domestic Cricket Intikhab Alam, a number of poor decisions were witnessed in the event.
The crowd started to move out of the stadium as soon as Younus was out and stands were left empty within no time.
Earlier, Faisalabad skipper Misbahul Haq won the toss and decided to bat first, a decision which paid dividend, as Wolves got off to flying start. Opener Farrukh Shahzad played majestic unbeaten knock of 84, consuming 63 deliveries, hitting eight fours and three sixes. Asif Ali made 19-ball 37 while Khurrum Shahzad added 22 to help Wolves post 186-4 on the board. Khalid Usman, Shakeel Ahmed, Junaid Khan and Ahmed Jamal took a wicket apiece.
It was arguably biggest crowd gathered at Pindi Stadium, it was near pack to capacity, had newly appointed PCB Tournament Committee head Major (R) Nadeem Sidle not sit on VIP and chairman BOX passes, it could have been full house, poor planning of local organizers spoiled the party, kids were left stranded out the side ground, as near and dear ones were given top priority, PCB doesn't bothered to even release a single VIP pass to journalists, who were given low grade passes, while hundreds of passes were kept for blue-eyed persons.
Rawalpindi has long history of filling the grounds within matter of time. It is grave injustice to the locals, that such amount of passes were wasted as the passes should have been given to the kids who were waiting outside the stadium for hours in hope of entering the ground, but Major Nadeem had other important areas to look after and was least bother about crowd or journalists requests.