ISLAMABAD - Test discarded opening batsman Khurram Manzoor once again excelled in Karachi Region Whites 5-wicket victory over Peshawar Region in the National One-Day Cup Regions 2017-18 semifinal played here at Pindi Stadium Thursday.

Peshawar skipper M Rizwan won the toss and decided to take first use on the perfect bright sunny day. His decision paid off as Peshawar posted 281 runs losing all their wickets in 49.5 overs. M Rizwan led the team from the front and scored swashbuckling 72 runs off 65 balls, hitting 4 boundaries while Israrullah slammed 47 and Badshah 40. M Asghar and Anwar Ali grabbed 3 wickets each conceding 43 and 49 runs respectively, while Zia-ul-Haq took 2 for 66.

Karachi achieved the target in the last over, with 5 balls to spare. It was opener Khurram Manzoor, who was enjoying rich form with the willow and his dashing 100 runs laid the foundation of Karachi victory. Khurram’s innings included 11 boundaries as he consumed 102 deliveries. , Akbar-ur-Rehman provided much-needed stand to Khurram as he scored 82 in 107 balls and hit 3 boundaries. Asad Shafiq slammed 36 and Fawad Alam 25, but it was Danish Aziz, who ensured victory with his unbeaten 20.  Israrullah, Taj Wali and Zohaib Ahmed shared once wicket apiece giving away 36, 44 and 48 runs respectively. Asif Yaqoob and Rashid Riaz were field umpires, while Saqib Khan was TV umpire, Aziz-ur-Rehman referee and Shakeel Ahmed scorer.

The second semifinal between Rawalpindi and Islamabad will be held today (Friday) while the final will be played on Sunday at the same venue. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) must pay attention towards fast fading light, as last 10 overs of the semifinal were almost played in darkness and to the great credit of Karachi, they never complained and achieved the target despite low light. Karachi team played like a unit and had very experienced side so there is every chance that they can clinch the title.

The PCB must ensure lights are available at the Pindi Stadium and utilise the option to give second batting team fair chance. The sun sets around 5:30 pm, but light starts to fade around 4:30pm. Another major area where the PCB should have paid heed was broadcasting as they must broadcast at least the semifinals live on national broadcaster, if they can’t manage all the matches, as it would have added interest for the players and spectators could also have arrived in huge numbers.  There is still time, if the PCB can’t ensure second semifinal live between Rawalpindi and Islamabad, then they must ensure at least final to air live and also announce free entry to the venue. The Pindi Stadium is well-known crowd puller, and if the free entry is allowed, there is every possibility the stadium will be jam-packed.

SUMMARIZED SCORES:

PESHAWAR REGION: 281-10 in 49.5 overs: (Muhammad Rizwan 72, 65 balls, 4x4s, Israrullah 47, 66 balls, 4x4s, Akbar Badshah 40, 32 balls, 5x4s, Adil Amin 33, 52 balls, 2x4s, Zohaib Khan 31, 20 balls, 4x4s, Muhammad Asghar 3-43, Anwar Ali 3-49, Zia-ul-Haq 2-66) 

KARACHI REGION WHITES: 285-5 in 49.1 overs: (Khurram Manzoor 100, 102 balls, 11x4s, Akbar-ur-Rehman 82, 107 balls, 3x4s, Asad Shafiq 36, 47 balls, 5x4s, Fawad Alam 25, 17 balls, 3x4s, Danish Aziz 20*, 8x4s, 1x4, Israrullah 1-36, Taj Wali 1-44, Zohaib Ahmed 1-48).