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Danish Aziz opens up after upstaging Babar Azam in National T20 Cup

Former Pakistan U19 batsman saved Sindh’s blushes with a half-century against Central Punjab

Danish Aziz opens up after upstaging Babar Azam in National T20 Cup PHOTO COURTESY: PCB

Former Pakistan U19 batsman Danish Aziz saved Sindh’s blushes with a half-century that also overshadowed Central Punjab’s Babar Azam’s second successive half-century and spirited bowling performance from Waqas Maqsood in the 18th match of the National T20 Cup at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Saturday evening.

Danish clubbed five fours and three sixes in a 32-ball 59 not out as Sindh, chasing 171 for victory and after slipping to 16 for two and then 53 for four, romped to victory with three wickets and five balls to spare.

Danish had walked out to bat after Khurram Manzoor (six), Sharjeel Khan (six), Sarfaraz Ahmed (10) and Asad Shafiq (11) had returned to the hut. He added 44 runs for the fifth wicket with Azam Khan, who dominated the stand with a 23-ball 32.

“I was under a bit of pressure because I was not playing regularly for the side. I wanted to perform well and so when this situation came up I tried to play till the end and finish the game,” said Aziz.

The 24-year-old then put on 57 crucial runs for the sixth wicket with Hassan Khan (36 off 15 balls, 2x4, 4x6) to bring Sindh within touching distance.

“I was trying to play each ball on merit. Hassan also supported me with two to three timely big shots, which made the target easier,” he said.

Danish also enjoyed the company of his good friend, Hassan, in the crucial sixth wicket partnership.

“Hassan and I are childhood friends; we have played a lot of cricket together for Karachi and have represented Pakistan in age-group cricket together. We play a lot of club cricket together and also practiced at the same academy. We know each other’s capabilities and game very well which I feel helped us a great deal out in the middle,” he said.    

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And although Hassan and Anwar Ali departed with nine runs still required, Danish kept his cool as a Waqas Maqsood wide bouncer earned Sindh their second win in six matches and handed Central Punjab their fifth loss in seven matches.

Earlier, Sindh displayed greasy palms but also showed glimpses of brilliance in the field and executed excellent death over bowling to restrict Central Punjab to 170 for six after sending them into bat.

Sindh showed special generosity towards Babar Azam by dropping him twice in the first 13 balls. Babar slapped nine four and three sixes in a 53-ball 86, his second successive half-century since joining the squad for the Rawalpindi-leg matches.

While Sindh conceded runs in the field and dropped catches, two acts of brilliance also kept them in the hunt to keep Central Punjab to an achievable score. Asad Shafiq brought off a one-handed stunner to dismiss Abdullah Shafiq (16) and a couple of balls later Anwar Ali ran-out Faheem Ashraf.

Sindh bowlers, led by Sohail Khan, Mohammad Hasnain and Anwar, were on the mark and allowed Central Punjab to score 84 runs in the last 10 overs, including 44 runs off the last 30 balls.

Sohail Khan was the pick of the bowlers with three for 24, while Mohammad Hasnain and Anwar Ali took a wicket each conceding 26 and 27 runs, respectively.