RAWALPINDI - Riffatullah blitz powered Peshawar into the final of the Cool & Cool Present Haier Mobile T20 Cup 2015, as he single-handedly won the semifinal against star-studied Sialkot in the second semifinal played here at Pindi Cricket Stadium Monday to set up final clash against Karachi Blues to be played today (Tuesday).

Defending champions Peshawar won the match by 5 wickets achieving 170-run target in 18.4 overs. Riffatullah hit 6 fours and 5 massive sixes in his 51-ball 78. The crowd was provided a real entertainment by stylish right-handed Riffatullah, who never gave respect to any Sialkot bowler. His fluent and flamboyant innings was highly appreciated by the massive crowd, mainly by Pakhtoons, who came from across KP to witness their favorite team in action and they were provided real run for their money. Riffatullah was named player of the semifinal for his outstanding knock.

Wicketkeeper M Rizwan hit unbeaten 47 off 32 balls, hitting 4 fours and 1 six. Peshawar started their run-chase in worst possible fashion as they lost opener Israrullah for 7 and then in-form Iftikhar Ahmed at total of 49. But then Peshawar players settled down and played superb innings to help their team reach home safely.

Earlier, Peshawar Region skipper Zohaib Khan won the toss and invited Sialkot to bat first Nouman Anwar lost his wicket at 6 while second wicket of Sialkot was fallen at 38. Mukhtar Ahmed showed glimpses of his batting with short stay at the crease and scored 24-ball 34, hitting 4 fours and 1 six, but it was superb batting by Adeel Malik, younger brother of skipper Shoaib Malik, who scored unbeaten 70 in 46 balls, smashing 7 fours and 3 sixes. Sialkot posted 169-7 on the board. Imran Khan Junior took 2-34, while Imran Khan Senior, Adil Amin and Zohaib got one wicket each.

It was massive crowd despite the fact local teams of Rawalpindi and Islamabad were not in action, still the stands were packed to capacity. The security role must be lauded as PCB security staff did a fantastic job of ensuring smooth passage of ticket-holders to their respective seats, while local administration also did a tremendous job of ensuring smooth traffic flow. School-going kids, as per promised by DCO Sajid Zafar Dal, were allowed to use main stadium road without any disturbance and were looking very satisfied. This must be continued for the final as well, as it will be the last major event in the city for a while and it should be concluded on a high note.

Earlier in the first semi-final, Karachi Blues survived Multan scare to reach the final of T20 Cup as they beat Multan by eight runs. Batting first, Multan could score 181-9 in the allotted overs. Sohaib Maqsood hit some powerful blows in his short stay at the crease and hit 4 sixes to gather 38 runs. He also smashed one of the biggest sixes of the tournament. Zain Abbas made 33 with the help of 3 fours and 1 six, while skipper Kamran Akmal contributed 22.

Fawad Khan was most expensive bowler of the tournament after conceding 66 runs in his four-over spell and got only one wicket. Requiring 38 runs for win in 12 balls, Multan’s Aamer Yasin hit 18 of Anwar Ali’s over to give his team hope of snatching victory. Twenty runs were left to score in the last over with one-wicket in hand. Aamer was still at the crease, and Ruman bowled no-ball to give Multan hope to win the match. Ruman bowled superb Yorker, which crushed Aamer’s toe, but he hit boundary on very next ball and very next for a six, as nine runs were left on two deliveries. Aamer missed crucial delivery and nine were left to chase after the final ball.

Earlier, Karachi Region Blues skipper Sarfraz Ahemd won the toss and decided to bat first. His decision failed to deliver as opener Khurram Manzoor was out on the very first ball of the innings. Khalid Latif was also shown the pavilion at the total of 22 while Shahzaib Hasan followed him on the very next ball to leave Karachi reeling at 22-3. All the three wickets were taken by in-form Majid Ali, but credit also went to Kamran Akmal, who took three superb catches.

Sarfraz Ahmed and Asad Shafiq played with maturity and put on 57 runs for the fourth-wicket stand in only 28 balls. Sarfraz was particularly very severe with the bat and hit 16-ball 37 smashing 6 fours and 1 six, but he was needlessly run out. Fawad Alam joined Asad and shared 75-run for the fifth-wicket partnership in 49 balls. Afridi joined Fawad, but he, as usual, failed to entertain the crowd and left very early. Karachi did recover well and managed to post 189-8 on the board. Fawad made unbeaten 60, hitting 5 fours and 1 six while Asad contributed 34-ball 53 and Sarfraz Ahmed made quick-fire 38. Majid clinched 3-30 and Rahat Ali 3-33.

Talking to The Nation, Karachi Region Blues star performer and man of the semifinal Abdul Amir said he was worried about his last match performance and wanted to play lead role in helping his team win the crunch match against Multan. “I am glad as I did it and helped my team beat Multan and qualify for the final. No matter any opposition, Peshawar or Sialkot, we are ready for the task and will play positive cricket and try to win the trophy.”