LAHORE   -     Imam-ul-Haq’s half-century and Akif Javed’s three-fer secured a seven-wicket win for Balochistan against Southern Punjab in the ninth match of the ongoing National T20 Cup at Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad.

Balochistan captain Haris Sohail decided to bowl first after winning the toss and the decision produced the desired results for his side immediately with young pacer Akif removing Shan Masood and Mohammad Hafeez in the first over of the match.

The left-arm pacer struck again in the death overs, accounting for Aamer Yamin’s wicket. In his four overs, Akif took three wickets for 16 runs. Sohaib Maqsood and Wahab Riaz were the two batsmen who put up a fight with the bat and helped Southern Punjab to a respectable score of 144 for seven. Sohaib scored a 34-ball 35, while Wahab’s batting form continued as the 34-year-old cracked 31 runs from 17 balls with three fours and a six. Balochistan got off to a solid start thanks to a well-crafted 51 off 39 by Imam.

The left-handed opener cracked six fours and stitched a 60-run opening stand with Awais Zia (22 off 24) before the latter lost his wicket on the penultimate ball of the ninth over. Haris’ and Imran Butt’s unbeaten scores of 25 off 22 and 28 off 21, respectively, ensured Balochistan chase down the total comfortably with seven wickets and three balls spare. Mohammad Zahid and Wahab picked up two wickets each in the run chase for 28 and 37 runs. Imam was declared man-of-the-match.

Meanwhile, Northern beat Sindh by 66 runs in the 10th match of the ongoing National T20 Cup. Imad Wasim-led Northern scored 191 for seven in 20 overs after opting to bat first. Sohail Akhtar cracked a 36-ball 63, smacking six fours and three sixes, and crafted a 102-run partnership with Umar Amin, who scored 36 runs from 25 balls which had two fours and three sixes.

Late blows from Asif Ali and Imad Wasim helped Northern post an imposing total. Asif scored 30 runs – which had three fours and two sixes – at a strike rate of over 187 and Imad scored 27 from 19 balls. Once again, Mohammad Hasnain was the pick of the bowlers for Sindh as the right-arm pacer picked up two wickets for 32 runs.

For Northern, Shadab Khan led the attack with three for 28 in four overs. Mohammad Amir picked up two wickets for 18 runs. Sohail was named man-of-the-match for his batting exploits. At the end of the fifth day of the National T20 Cup, Balochistan lead the points table with six points, coming from three wins, while Northern and Sindh are placed second and third with two wins each.

At the bottom of the table are Central Punjab with a single win in three matches. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Southern Punjab, placed at four and five, also have one wins each, but their better net run rate see them above Central Punjab.

SCORES IN BRIEF

SOUTHERN PUNJAB: 144-7, 20 overs (Sohaib Maqsood 35, Wahab Riaz 31, Aamer Yamin 27; Akif Javed 3-16, Mohammad Asghar 2-17)

BALOCHISTAN: 145-3, 19.3 overs (Imam-ul-Haq 51, Imran Butt 28 not out, Haris Sohail 25 not out, Awais Zia 22; Zahid Mahmood 2-28, Wahab Riaz 2-37)

NORTHERN: 191-7, 20 overs (Sohail Akhtar 63, Umar Amin 36, Asif Ali 30, Imad Wasim 27; Mohammad Hasnain 2-32)

SINDH: 125 all-out, 17.4 overs (Ahsan Ali 29; Shadab Khan 3-28, Mohammad Amir 2-18)