RAWALPINDI - Young coach Ayaz Akbar further enhanced his reputation, as Fata routed Faisalabad by 4 wickets in the National Twenty20 Cup 2017-18 match to book berth in the semifinals here at Pindi Stadium on Friday.

Fata needed that crucial victory with improved run-rate. Man-in-form Muhktar Ahmed and skipper Hammad Azam helped Fata wrap up the match in 16.4 overs to oust Karachi Whites. Mukhtar Ahmed scored 46 off 27 balls hitting 3 fours and as many sixes, while Hammad Azam slammed 19-ball 37, studded with 1 four and 4 sixes and Asif Afridi struck 34. Soon after Fata registered victory, wild celebrations broke out in their camp and the entire team rushed to the field to celebrate historic moment. Hammad Azam was named player of the match. Yasir Shah bagged 3-23, Saeed Ajmal 2-27 and Asad Ali 1-26.

Earlier, Fata skipper won the toss and opted to bowl first in the overcast conditions. It turned out to be a wise decision, as Faisalabad could score 157-5. Asif Ali gathered unbeaten 52 off 35 balls, smashing 2 fours and 4 sixes while Ali Waqas slammed 40 with the help of 3 fours and 1 six and Sahibzada Farhan made 23. Zia-ul-Haq took 2-24, while M Irfan and Sameen Gul got one wicket.

Earlier helped by Kamran Akmal and Salman Butt, who created new national T20 history by scoring massive 209-run opening partnership without being separated, Lahore Whites hammered Islamabad by massive 109 runs. Men-in-form Kamran and Salman simply blew away Islamabad bowlers and smashed them to all corners of the ground. Lahore skipper Salman Butt won the toss and opted to bat first. They posted massive 209 without losing a wicket.

Once again Islamabad Region big boss made two changes as Faizan Riaz and Shahzad Azam Rana replaced with Ali Sarfraz and Rahat Ali, while super-flop Arsal Shaikh, favourite son of Shakeel Shaikh, who was supposed to get berth as off spinner, was never utilised, as Islamabad administration was fully aware that Arsal, like previous match, would get the bashing. What is the purpose of including Arsal, when he was not asked to bowl a single delivery and to put icing on the cake? The son of powerful Islamabad Region boss consumed 17 deliveries to score 7 runs.

It was great delight to watch Kamran and Salman playing the innings of their lives, especially Kamran was a treat to watch. The audience, once again, was very thin due to poor management by absentee chairman tournament organising committee Haroon Rahseed, who never bothered to present at the venue and the administration never bothered to use commonsense and allow free entry for spectators at least at general stands.

Kamran was in sublime form as he consumed 71 deliveries and scored unbeaten 150, hitting 14 fours and 12 sixes, which is also national record of maximum sixes in one innings, while Salman was playing the role of second fiddle, as he hit unbeaten 55 off 49 balls with the help of 8 fours.

Islamabad, who needed a mountain to climb, were bundled out for 100 in 18.4 overs. Raza Hassan made 19 and Shan Masood 17. Bilal Asif captured 3-34, while Wahab Riaz took 2-7 and Amir Yameen and Ehsan Adil got one wicket each.

The Rawalpindi administration has put the lives of players, spectators and journalists on huge risk, as they are least bothered to check the walk-through-gate installed at main gate, which are out of order for the last 10 days. The security guards appointed at main gate hardly bother to check people coming inside the stadium and to make the things further worst, the scanner is also out of order. Despite several requests being made to the PCB and ground security staff to pay heed to the issue of grave importance, the PCB security person, on condition of anonymity, told this scribe that he had time and again requested the relevant persons to fix the issue, which had put the lives of many on high risk, but it needs around Rs 1 million to fix the walk through gate and scanning machine.

The PCB is not taking the issue seriously. Pindi has been facing huge security threats as a religious outfit have staged sit-in for the last two weeks and there is real danger of serious security lapse, as anybody can sneak in and could cause heavy and irreparable damaged, instead of waiting for something to happen, they must fix the issue.

In the first semifinal, Faisalabad will take on Lahore Whites at 12pm, while Fata will play against Hafeez-led Lahore Blues at 4pm.