RAWALPINDI - Man-of-the-match Sohaib Maqsood batted Faisalabad to convincing 5-wicket victory over hosts Rawalpindi in the National T20 Cup 2017-18 match played here at Pindi Stadium on Tuesday.

Sohaib Maqsood was in great form, as he punished Pindi bowlers severely while hammering 43-ball 87 with the help of 9 fours and 6 sixes, while Khurram Shahzad and Faheem Ashraf took Faisalabad home in 19.5 overs. Both Khurram and Faheem remained unbeaten after scoring 52 and 26 runs respectively. Chasing 194 runs for victory, Faisalabad achieved the target in 19.5 overs losing 5 wickets. With another defeat, Rawalpindi is now out of semifinals race and will vie against Fata for 7th and 8th place on offer.

Earlier, helped by brilliant 103-run third-wicket partnership between skipper Umar Amin and Zain Abbas, Rawalpindi posted massive 193-3 against Faisalabad. They lost first wicket at 28, as opener Ahsan Ali was out in the fourth over, but a scintillating 103-run stand between Umar and Zain ensured Rawalpindi post a huge total on the board. Umar was in great form as he hammered all the Faisalabad bowlers to all corners of the park while the thin local crowd was also right behind Umar and Zain and bucking them up to hit massive sixes. Umar scored 67 off 47 balls, hitting 7 fours and 3 sixes while Zain scored 45-ball 62, smashing 4 fours and two sixes. Skipper Sohail Tanveer made unbeaten 32. Taj Wali, Asad Raza and Faheem Ashraf got one wicket each.

Earlier in the first match of the day, skipper Salman Butt steered Lahore Whites to comfortable 27-run victory against Peshawar Region. With this victory, Whites had almost ensured a berth in the semifinals. Salman Butt won the toss and opted to take first use of the wicket, he, along with man-in-form Kamran Akmal, ensure Whites posted a decent total of 163-4.

Butt also sent another reminder to the selectors that he is not finished yet and ready to solve Pakistan team opening woes. Half-fit Butt consumed 58 to score 85 runs smashing 14 boundaries, while Kamran Akmal slammed yet another 50, he gathered 52 runs off 40 balls with the help of 5 fours and 3 sixes. Sohail Khan took 1-28. Peshawar Region, in reply, were bundled out for 136 in 19.3 overs. Naved Yasin was the only notable batsman, who scored 25. Umaid Asif was wrecker-in-chief as he grabbed 4-26, while Asif Ali and Ehsan Adil chipped in with 2 wickets each.

It was yet another highly frustrated day as far as the number of spectators numbers are concerned. Despite several reminders to the PCB, no heed was paid. The tournament is reaching its climax, but the crowd presence at the venue is highly thin and it has nothing to do with absence of top stars, sit-in by religious outfit, but it is a complete failure of chairman tournament committee Haroon Rasheed and company.

Firstly, Haroon didn’t bother to reach the venue and when he finally arrived, he remained busy in praising powerful Islamabad Region president Shakil Shaikh, who managed to get accreditation of not only his sons, close aides, but also the blue-eyed zones’ representatives, while genuine stakeholders were denied not only accreditation cards but also weren’t provide free passes.

The twin cities’ cricketers and administrators of different clubs once again requested the PCB chairman to look into sorry state of affairs of Rawalpindi and Islamabad Regions and provide justice to them. Shakil Sheikh has appointed his nephew Zohaib Ahmed as captain of Islamabad Region, who looks unfit and has not bowled a single delivery in the entire tournament. He failed to score even handful runs and almost cost Islamabad crucial match against Faisalabad.

Despite all these irregularities, nobody can dare to challenge Shakil Shaikh, who has been managing to manipulate things for almost two decades. He is known for praising every PCB chairman and as soon the person is ousted, he starts talking negatively about him. It is right time to ensure fresh persons, who know the ABC of cricket, to replace cricket-illiterate persons, as it is the only solution to bring betterment in domestic and national cricket, otherwise Pakistan cricket will keep on suffering due to such selfish persons.