RAWALPINDI -  Lahore Region Blues sent Islamabad Region packing in the National Twenty20 Cup 2017-18 after thrashing them by 5 wickets in a must-win match here at Pindi Stadium on Wednesday.

Requiring 175 runs for victory, Lahore achieved the target in 18.4 overs losing 5 wickets. Ahmed Shahzad, known as selfie king, proved his worth when it mattered the most as he played classic knock 79 runs off 47 balls with the help of 8 fours and 3 massive sixes. He was ably assisted by his teammate Hussain Talat who made 41. M Irfan took 1-22, Umar Gul 1-31 and Arsal Shaikh 1-33. Shan Masood was named man of the match for his outstanding innings, but he failed to save the blushes of Islamabad .

Earlier, helped by unbeaten 103 by stand-in-skipper Shan Masood, who replaced out-of-form Zohaib Ahmed, Islamabad posted 174-3 on the board in the allotted overs. Islamabad could have scored around 200 runs, but they failed to utilize conditions accordingly and had to settle for at least 30 runs short at the end.

Nauman Anwar was the first to go when Islamabad were at 16. Rohail then was sent back to the pavilion at the total of 84 and Saad Ali was the last to get out at the total of 108. But Shan Masood not only kept one end intact, but also kept the scoreboard ticking. He hit 12 boundaries and 2 sixes in his 68-ball innings while Rohail scored 33 and Faizan Riaz unbeaten 19. Khalid Usman took 2-32 and Aizaz Cheema 1-38.

Shakil Shaikh once again never forgot to replace his nephew Zohaib Ahmed, who was a super flop in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy recently and now a big failure in National T20 Cup , with his son Arsal Shakih in the playing XI in such a crucial do-or-die match, where semifinal place was on offer. But Shakil was least bothered about the results as he is free to do whatever he likes and nobody can dare to seek explanation from him. Finally commonsense prevailed and justice was provided to highly unlucky Faizan Riaz, who was the leading scorer in the Quaid Trophy for Islamabad , as he was finally given nod of approval.

It is a great injustice with top performers of the domestic cricket, as they were completely ignored, but on the other hand, Rohail Nazir, who is in good books of Shakil Shakih’s son Moied Shakih, who is a super flop in the recently-concluded U-19 Asia Cup , was drafted into the squad in place of M Naqash. The question arises here that why the PCB has kept mum when it comes to take action against Shakil Shakih, why this gentleman has been given supreme powers to play with the careers of not only Rawalpindi-Islamabad based players, but also with other region’s players? Why does nobody dare to stop him from his self-styled policies, instead of seeking explanation, the PCB chairman is all set to shower further blessings to him.

The drafting system was introduced by Shakil, which, like past, proved to be super flop concept and a number of deserving players were left high and dry to represent their regions. The top performers are running from post to pillar, while Arsal Shaikh, who had taken just one wicket and that too over 97 runs average in Quiad Trophy, succeeded in getting place in the play XI just because he is son of Shakil Shaikh.

Earlier, helped by brilliant 117 by Mukhtar Ahmed, Fata registered 19-run victory against Karachi Whites in a high-scoring encounter. Fata piled up a massive total of 219-6 with Muhktar hammering 58-ball 117 with the help of 15 fours and 6 sixes while Sohail Akhtar slammed 39. Anwar Ali took 2-51 and Tabish Khan 2-62. Karachi put up a decent fight but could score 200-5. Khurram Manzoor made fighting 104 off 61 balls hitting 14 fours and 2 sixes while Haris Sohail struck 50. Sameen Gul and Hammad Azam took 2 wickets each.

It was once again highly disappointed crowd as the PCB and Pindi Stadium administration never bothered to pay heed towards extending free passes to the masses for general stands, while, on the other hand, the near and dear ones were not only accommodated well but also given free meal and facilitated well. What is the purpose of conducting matches with empty-stadium, why has the PCB chairman not seeking explanation and taking action against those, who have been depriving the masses of watching their favourite players in action?