RAWALPINDI-Sohail Khan’s long handle proved to be the main difference, as KP crowned Pakistan Cup 2019 champions after edging Balcohistan by 9 runs in a thrilling final played here at Pindi Stadium on late Friday night.

Salman Butt won the toss and opted to bat first. Salman was back in the dugout with only 3 on the board. He could score only 2. KP had lost all the major batsmen including Saad Ali, Adil Amin and Khushdil Shah with only 159 runs on the board. Abid Ali was given much-needed boost by Saad Ali, who scored 51, but Adil Amin and Khsuhdil went very cheaply.

Abid continued to hit Balochistan bowlers at will and posted a well-deserving century. But when it mattered the most, he was also removed. Abid scored 132 off 119 deliveries as his innings included 12 fours and two sixes, while Saad scored 61-ball 51, hitting 5 fours and 1 six. KP were badly struggling at 238-6, as Abid Ali also departed in 42.5 overs while Adnan Akmal fell at the same total. Balochsitan were sensing victory, as it was youngster Ali Imran, who was justifying his sheer talent, as he removed dangerous Saad Ali, Khushdil Shah and Zohaib Khan.  It looked like KP might not even post 250, but a massive unbroken seventh-wicket stand between Sohail Khan and Wahab Riaz proved to be the difference in the end, as both contributed significant 69 runs in 40 deliveries. Sohail remained unbeaten at 45 which he gathered in 20 balls hitting 1 four and 5 sixes while Wahab struck unbeaten 22 off 21 balls, smashing 1 four and 1 six. Ali Imran clinched 3 wickets for 48 while Haris Rauf captured 2-41 and Umer Khan and Amad Butt got one wicket apiece.

Balochsitan skipper Asad Shafiq once again proved that he had no sense of leading the side especially when he had witnessed that the youngster Ali Imran had scored 77 in the last match and was declared player of the match for his brilliant all-round performance. But Asad once again kept the youngster waiting till the end and finally sent him to bat at number 6, which cost Balochistan dearly, as they lost the final by just 9 runs.

Awais Zia and Zeeshan Ashraf were given the task to guide Balochistan home, but Zeeshan after scoring 16 was back to the pavilion. Asad and Awais formed 92 runs for third-wicket stand, but Asad also lost his wicket after scoring 48. Umar Akmal was sent packing at his personal score of 23 while Ali Imran contributed with 27.

Awais and Fawad continued to fight before Awais getting out after scoring 83. The wickets kept on falling as target was going far and far from Balochistan’s grasp. The main difference was captaincy and utilisation of bowling options. Salman Butt, who had the services of seasoned coach like Sabih Azhar, took some very wise decision and turned the entire situation of the final. Balochistan required 22 runs in penultimate over and they could score 10 but they paid heavy price by losing three key wickets. In the last over, they needed 12 runs, but they could add just 2 and could score 298 for the loss of 9 wickets. Sohail Kahn captured 3 for 75 to earn of the final award, while Umaid Asif took 2-51 and Wahab Riaz, M Irfan and Zohaib Khan got one wicket each.

Umar Akmal was declared the best batsman of the tournament with 342 runs at an average of 85.50 while Wahab Riaz and Ammad Butt were jointly declared the best bowlers for capturing 9 wickets each and Hammad Azam was best all-rounder for scoring 144 runs and taking 9 wickets.

It was wonderful atmosphere in the stadium as a lot of noise, cheers, flags of Pakistan, music and entertainment were orders of the day. It was a complete festivity and credit must be given to the PCB, local administration and crowd, who made the event a success.

Scorecard

KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA

Salman Butt c Bismillah b Haris................. 2

Abid Ali b Amad Butt................................ 132

M Saad c Bismillah b Ali Imran................. 51

Adil Amin c Haris Rauf b Umer Khan......... 1

Khushdil Shah c Umar b Ali Imran............. 2

Zohaib Khan c Asad b Ali Imran.............. 27

Adnan Akmal b Haris Rauf........................ 14

Wahab Riaz not out................................... 22

Sohail Khan not out.................................. 45

EXTRAS: (lb 8, nb 1, w 2).......................... 11

TOTAL: (7 wkts, 50 overs)...................... 307

FOW: 1-3, 2-139, 3-148, 4-159, 5-201, 6-238, 7-238.

BOWLING:

Mohammad Irfan 8-0-47-0, Haris Rauf 10-2-41-2, Umer Khan 9-0-54-1, Ali Imran 10-0-48-3, Amad Butt 10-0-89-1, Fawad Alam 2-0-18-0, Asad Shafiq 1-0-2-0.

BALOCHISTAN:

Awais Zia c Wahab b Umaid Asif............. 83

Zeeshan Ashraf b Mohammad Irfan........ 16

Asad Shafiq st Adnan b Zohaib Khan..... 48

Umar Akmal c Sohail b Umaid Asif.......... 23

Fawad Alam c Adnan b Sohail Khan....... 48

Ali Imran c M Saad b Wahab Riaz............ 27

Bismillah Khan run out............................. 20

Amad Butt c Khushdil b Sohail Khan....... 11

Haris Rauf c sub b Sohail Khan................. 8

Umer Khan not out...................................... 1

Mohammad Irfan not out............................ 1

EXTRAS: (b 4, lb 3, w 5)............................ 12

TOTAL: (9 wkts, 50 overs)...................... 298

FOW: 1-35, 2-127, 3-163, 4-183, 5-224, 6-268, 7-288, 8-296, 9-296.

BOWLING:

Sohail Khan 10-0-75-3, Mohammad Irfan 10-0-60-1, Umaid Asif 10-0-51-2, Wahab Riaz 10-1-36-1, Zohaib Khan 6-0-43-1, Khushdil Shah 4-0-26-0.

TOSS: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

UMPIRES: Shozab Raza, Ahsan Raza

TV UMPIRES: Asif Yaqoob

RESERVE UMPIRE: Rashid Riaz

MATCH REFEREE: Mohammed Anees