Captain returns 3 for five after which smashes 19-ball 45* to close out Central Punjab in title conflict
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 152 for 3 (Iftikhar 45*, Ghulam 37) beat Central Punjab 148 (Shehzad 44, Akmal 42, Iftikhar 3-5, Imran 3-26) by seven wickets
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa defended their National T20 title, storming previous Central Punjab to win by seven wickets on Wednesday night in Lahore. A surprising all-round efficiency by Iftikhar Ahmed, who took three wickets for 5 runs and smashed an unbeaten 45 off 19 balls, was on the coronary heart of the present from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who dominated the sport from begin to end.
After placing Central Punjab in to bat, Imran Khan struck off the second ball, getting Muhammad Akhlaq to nick off to the keeper. It was adopted by the perfect spell Central Punjab loved within the recreation – Kamran Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad had been collectively on the crease, main the revival with an 85-run partnership off 61 balls. Both gamers, as soon as they bought going, started to look harmful, notably when Asif Afridi, so spectacular in any other case, was smashed for 16 in his first over.
But as soon as Khalid Usman had Akmal stumped and Iftikhar removed Shehzad inside seven balls of one another, Central Punjab went to items. Iftikhar and Muhammad Imran struck thrice every, whereas Qasim Akram and Faheem Ashraf had been the one different batters who managed double figures. The final 9 wickets fell for 63 runs as Central Punjab didn’t bat out their 20 overs, setting Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 149 for victory.
A complete as little as that hadn’t been defended all event, and in reality, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had been by no means in peril of letting that occur on the evening.
They did not begin particularly explosively, however even whereas the asking fee climbed, that they had wickets in hand, and appeared accountable for the chase. Sahibzada Farhan and Kamran Ghulam had been astute of their pacing of the innings, as they added 47 for the second wicket, conscious solely a flurry of wickets might imperil their cost to the title. Even when each did fall, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa wanted an additional 69 in simply over seven overs; with a person in Iftikhar’s kind coming in to bat subsequent, it did not really feel all that a lot.
Any doubts had been put to relaxation within the fifteenth over, the place a wayward Muhammad Faizan went for 20 runs, and from that time on, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa required lower than a run a ball.
Iftikhar, although, wasn’t content material to walk by means of to victory, and blasted his workforce previous the ending line in simply one other couple of overs. Fittingly, it was a few boundaries from him that sealed the win. He would go on to be named the match and event awards, by far the perfect participant in a workforce that was head and shoulders above the remainder.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000