Imam helps Lahore Blues clinch National T20 Cup
LAHORE: Brilliant unbeaten knock of opener Imam-ul-Haq helped Lahore Region Blues outclass Lahore Whites by 7 wickets in all-Lahore final to clinch the Brighto Paints Present Cool & Cool National Twenty20 Cup at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on Thursday.
An outstanding bowling effort from the Lahore Blues’ bowlers and rollicking batting from their openers guided them to title triumph. Both Lahore teams won five matches each in the round-robin stage before they thrashed Fata and Faisalabad respectively in the semifinals to make it all-Lahore final.
Salman Butt-led Lahore Whites won the toss and opted to bat first. After playing out the first four overs cautiously, Kamran Akmal was removed in the 5th over when he tried to go for a big shot down the ground. He was playing at 20. Lahore Whites then kept on struggling but brilliant bowling by Blues reduced them to 66-4 in 10.4 overs at one stage. However, Butt and Aamer Yamin steadied the ship and put on a 47-run partnership for the fifth wicket before the latter was dismissed. Butt remained the top scorer from Whites as he slammed unbeaten 62 off 59 balls, hitting eight fours.
The pick of Lahore Blues bowlers was Atif Jabbar, who captured two wickets for 24 from his full quota of overs. Former Test cricketer Aizaz Cheema got one wicket while Khalid Usman and Agha Salman also chipped in with one scalp each.
In pursuit of 128 runs, Lahore Blues got off to a sizzling start as both opener Imam-ul-Haq and Ahmed Shehzad were involved in a 43-run partnership before the latter was dismissed for 22. Thereafter, Imam played a match-winning innings as he partnering with M Hafeez added 76 runs. Hafeez lost his wicket when he was playing at 33. Lahore Blues won the match quite comprehensively by seven wickets with 15 balls to spare. Imam-ul-Haq hammered unbeaten 59 and emerged as the ultimate hero of the final and was also declared man of the final.
Winners Lahore Blues were awarded Rs 2,000,000, runners-up Lahore Whites Rs 1,000,000 while best batsman Kamran Akmal (Lahore Whites), best bowler Umaid Asif (Lahore Whites) and best outstanding cricketer/all rounder received Rs 50,000 each.
Lahore Region Whites 127-5 in 20 overs: (Salman Butt 62*, 59 balls, 8x4s, Kamran Akmal 20, 14 balls, 1×4, 2x6s, Atif Jabbar 2-24, Salman Ali Agha 1-13, Khalid Usman 1-28, Aizaz Cheema 1-26)
Lahore Region Blues 131-3 in 17.3 overs: (Imam-ul-Haq 59*, 49 balls, 7x4s, 1×6, Muhammad Hafeez 33, 35 balls, 3x4s, 1×6, Ahmed Shahzad 22, 17 balls, 3x4s, 1×6, Bilal Asif 1-23, Umaid Asif 1-24, Asif Ali 1-23).