RAWALPINDI - Karachi Whites edged past Rawalpindi by 14 runs in the National T20 Cup 2017-18 match played here at Pindi Stadium on Friday.

Requiring 179 runs for victory, Rawalpindi could score 164-9 in the allotted overs. Skipper Umar Amin hit 28 and Iftikhar Ahmed 25. Anwar Ali ripped through Rawalpindi batting by grabbing 4-30, while Rumman Raees captured 2-25. Asad Shafiq was named player of the match for his outstanding batting.  Rawalpindi lost opener Nasir Nawaz at 27, then M Nawaz followed him at 40. Skipper Umar Amin was next to fall at 49 and soon Iftikhar, Fawad Alam, Rameez Aziz and Shadab Khan also left the scene. Rawalpindi head coach Sabih Azhar made a huge blunder by picking non-T20 specialists in the squad including Rameez Aziz and Fawad Alam, who were never known for hitting lusty blows and scoring quick runs.

Earlier put into bat first, Karachi Whites posted 178-6 on the board in the allotted overs. In-form Asad Shafiq hammered 49-ball 72 hitting 9 fours and 1 six while skipper Sarfraz Ahmed made unbeaten 30. M Irfan Junior picked 2-33.

In the earlier match started at 9:30am due to Friday prayers, helped by skipper Salman Butt, Lahore Region Whites hammered Fata by 41 runs. Fata skipper Hammad Azam won the toss and decided to bowl first but his decision failed to yield desired results, as Lahore scored massive 213-4.

Salman hit unbeaten 74 consuming 50 balls and smashing 8 fours and two sixes, while man-of-the-match Kamran Akmal hit swashbuckling 63 with the help of 10 fours and two sixes and Amir Yameen gathered 52. Sohail Akhtar bagged 2-38.

Chasing a mammoth total, Fata were bowled out for 172 in 18.3 overs. Naved Malik and Awais Zia once again failed to lit up the venue with their hard hitting. Hammad Azam scored 50 and Mukhtar Ahmed 30. Wahab Riaz bowled well and picked up 3-15 while Bilal Asif and Umaid Asif took two wickets each.

Hats off to Pindi ground staff, who once again ensured the match start in time, despite heavy rain the other night. It is PCB’s turn to reward the ground staff with incentives for their outstanding work. The empty stands once again resented deserted look. The players love to play in front of jam-packed stadiums, as spectators are their life-lines, but highly irresponsible persons are spoiling such a mega event.

It is high time when PCB chairman Najam Sethi, who was very much present in Islamabad, should have paid surprise visit to the stadium and monitor himself the exact nature of the venue, instead of relying on cricket-illiterate persons. Sethi must use his own sources to improve the sorry state of affairs of Rawalpindi and especially Islamabad, where blue-eyed persons enjoy the limelight, while deserving talent is ignored.