RAWALPINDI -  An unbeaten knock of 118 by Khurram Manzoor helped Sindh sank defending champions KP by massive 8-wicket margin in the Pakistan Cup 2017 encounter here at Pindi Stadium on late Tuesday night.

The loss could spell disaster for holders KP, who are almost at brink now after losing two matches and depend on other favourable results to stand any realistic chance of making it to the finals on to be played on April 29. It also shows that M Rizwan needs a lot of grooming and time before being able to lead even a regional side, as his blunders continue unabated and have already cost KP dearly.

Rizwan won the toss and, without thinking for a second, opted to bat first, his decision failed to bear fruit as KP were bundled out for a meager 192 in 39.4 overs. KP made four changes in the team, which lost to Balochistan despite posting massive 323-5, while Sindh only made one change Saif Badar who replaced Hasan Mohsin.

KP got off to worse start as Israrullah got out at the total of 15. In-form Iftikhar Ahmed and Naeem joined hands and took the score to 63, before Iftikhar getting out, and after him, KP kept on losing wickets at regular intervals. Despite getting a decent start, top order failed to convert 20s into 50s and more. At one stage, KP were 131-3 before Shoaib Malik and Nabi Gul departed and soon skipper M Rizwan was also back to the pavilion, which left KP struggling at 157-6. Then it was 158-7 as M Sami was bowled out and at the same score, Zafar Gohar was also sent packing and they lost the second last wicket at 179 and were all out for just 192 run in 39 overs.

Umar Gul was at his usual best, as he gained full fitness and showed glimpses of his class and ability. He bowled with lot of venom and simply rattled KP batsmen with pace and classic short pitch bowling. The crowd was right behind Gul, and cheered him almost for every delivery, he bowled during the match. Besides Gul, leg spinner Osama Mir was also very dangerous and created lot of problems for KP batsmen and succeeded in bagging 3-44 and skipper Anwar Ali took 2-23.

Sindh got off to sensational start and raced on to post 51 in just 5.3 overs. Asif Zakir, who scored quick-fire 28, lost his wicket when he was caught behind off Taj Wali, but Khurram Manzoor hit the bowlers at will and helped Sindh post 80-1 in 10 overs. Khurram completed his well-deserving half century in just 27 balls and completed his ton in just 56 deliveries with the help of 12 four and half a dozen sixes. It was pure delight to watch full-flowing Khurram hitting boundaries and sixes with utmost ease and authority and he kept on bowlers on sword.

During the smooth chase, Akbar-ur-Rehman lost his wicket at the personal score of 43 off 53 balls, but Khurram kept the scoreboard ticking with great pace and soon Sindh achieved the target in 22.4 overs losing just 2 wickets. Khurram hammered unbeaten 118 off 61 balls with the help of 16 fours and 6 sixes. Taj Wali and Kashif Bhatti got one wicket each. Khurram was named player of the match. It was tremendous crowd and they enjoyed sensational batting display by Khurram Manzoor. Although Pakhtoons turned up in quite numbers, but they left the venue well before the Khurram started thrashing KP bowlers, as they were expecting better show from their team. It is hoped that the crowd will start thronging the stadium, as the mercury is down with rain almost falling every other day. It is high time when the tournament organising committee chairman Shakil Shaikh should announce free of cost entry to the general stands till the final to ensure house full.

 Scoreboard

KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA:

M Naeem (2) lbw b Usama Mir 34

Israrullah b Umar Gul 1

Iftikhar Ahmed c Khurram b Usama Mir 27

M Rizwan b Umar Gul 35

Shoaib Malik c Fawad b Usama Mir 41

Nabi Gul c M Hasan b Umar Gul 3

Zafar Gohar b Umar Gul 12

M Sami run out 1

Kashif Bhatti b Anwar Ali 17

Taj Wali not out 9

Asad Raza b Anwar Ali 6

EXTRAS: (lb 3, w 2, nb 1) 6

TOTAL: (all out; 39.4 overs) 192

FOW: 1-15, 2-63, 3-63, 4-131, 5-138, 6-157, 7-158, 8-158, 9-179, 10-192.

BOWLING: Umar Gul 10-0-44-4, Mir Hamza 6-0-39-0, M Nawaz (3) 8-1-39-0, Usama Mir 10-1-44-3, Anwar Ali 5.4-0-23-2.

SINDH:

Khurram Manzoor not out 118

Asif Zakir c Rizwan b Taj Wali 28

Akbar-ur-Rehman c Iftikhar b Kashif 43

Saif Badar not out 0

EXTRAS: (lb 1, w 2, nb 1) 4

TOTAL: (2 wickets; 22.4 overs) 193

FOW: 1-51, 2-181.

BOWLING: Asad Raza 3-0-25-0, Taj Wali 5-0-45-1, M Sami 3-0-19-0, Kashif Bhatti 6-0-49-1, Zafar Gohar 5.4-0-54-0.

TOSS: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

UMPIRES: Rashid Riaz and Riazuddin

TV UMPIRE: Khalid Mahmood

MATCH REFEREE: Javed Malik

RESERVE UMPIRE: Asif Yaqoob