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Khyber Pakhtunkhwa clinch National T20 Cup title after defeating Southern Punjab

Mohammad Rizwan-led unit won the final match by 10 runs

PHOTO COURTESY: PCB

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa defeated Southern Punjab by 10 runs to clinch the 2020-21 National T20 Cup title at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.

Chasing a daunting 207-run target, Southern Punjab got off to the worst possible start with pacer Shaheen Afridi dismissing captain Shan Masood (7) and Sohaib Maqsood (0) in the third over of the innings.

Zeeshan Ashraf also failed to make an impact as he was sent packing by pacer Wahab Riaz, after scoring 16 runs off 19 balls.

Despite losing three wickets with just 34 runs on the board, Hussain Talat and Khushdil Shah ensured that their team did not go down without a fight as they knitted a valuable partnership of 74 runs.

Just when it seemed that Southern Punjab were taking control of the game, pacer Usman Shinwari provided a crucial breakthrough in the shape of Shah’s wicket. The left-hander scored 34 runs off 24 balls.

Couple of overs later, Talat, who scored a blistering fifty, also departed after a stunning catch by Shoaib Malik, at long on, to hand Riaz his second wicket of the match. Talat scored 63 runs off just 33 balls with the help of six fours and three sixes.

Southern Punjab could not recover from this situation and were restricted to 196/8 in 20 overs.

For the winning side, Shaheen Afridi and Wahab Riaz bagged three wickets each.

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Earlier, after being asked to bat first, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa posted 206/4 in their allotted 20 overs after a solid batting display.

Openers Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Rizwan got their team off to a good start with the duo accumulating 52 runs in the first powerplay.

After a 76-run opening stand, captain Rizwan fell in the 10th over when wicketkeeper Zeeshan Ashraf ran him out from behind the stumps. The right-hander scored 25 runs off 30 balls.

After Rizwan’s departure, veteran all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez joined Zaman out in the middle as the pair tried to increase the scoring rate with some big shots.

Southern Punjab made some inroads with Zaman (67 runs off 40 balls) and Iftikhar Ahmed (1) departing in quick succession. At this stage veteran all-rounders Mohammad Hafeez (38 off 26) and Shoaib Malik took charge of the innings and stitched a brilliant partnership of 51 runs off just 26 balls to keep their side on track for a big total. Southern Punjab also did not help their cause by dropping three catches of Hafeez.

Malik kept on smashing the bowlers to all parts of the park, despite Hafeez going back to hut, and remained unbeaten on 56 runs off 22 balls. His innings included three fours and four maximums.  

For Southern Punjab, Yamin, Zahid Mehmood and Mohammad Imran claimed one wicket each.