LAHORE    -     Umar Amin’s half-century and a quickfire 44 not out from Asif Ali helped Northern to a comfortable win over Southern Punjab in the third match of the ongoing National T20 Cup at Faisalabad’s Iqbal Stadium.

Set 136 runs to win, Northern chased down the target in 19 overs at the loss of five wickets. Northern dealt early blows earlier in their innings, losing opener Naved Malik (1 off 6) and one-down Rohail Nazir (4 off 3) inside 3.1 overs. But, a 63-run stand between Umar, who cracked 50 off 41 with six fours and two sixes, and Mohammad Nawaz (24 off 25) for the third-wicket denied any further inroads to Southern Punjab’s bowlers for the next eight overs.

There was a ray of hope for Southern Punjab when Zahid Mahmood took Umar’s wicket. But Asif’s blistering 24-ball 44 not out, studded with three fours and three sixes, sealed the match. Zahid and Mohammad Irfan were the standout bowlers for Southern Punjab, picking up two wickets apiece for 14 and 19 runs.

Earlier, Southern Punjab captain Shan Masood opted to bat first. The decision, however, did not reap desired results as Shan (8 off 7) and Sami Aslam (3 off 8) were back in the pavilion in the first 20 balls of the match, with Mohammad Amir taking both wickets.

The Northern bowling attack kept a lid on the flow of runs as only Aamer Yamin and Sohaib Maqsood making solid contributions with the bat with 33 off 20 and 25 off 24, respectively. Sohail Tanvir was the pick of the bowler for Northern with three wickets for 27 runs.

Meanwhile, an all-round performance from Amad Butt and blistering knocks from Awais Zia and Bismillah Khan helped Balochistan to a 52-run win over Sindh. After being put into bat, Balochistan set a mammoth total of 233 for six in 20 overs.

Awais struck five fours and seven sixes in his 48-ball 77 and Bismillah cracked 54 off 30 balls, hitting four fours and four sixes as the pair stitched a 99-run partnership for the second wicket. It was, however, Amad’s scorching 10-ball 31 that helped Balochistan set an imposing total. The all-rounder struck four sixes and a four. For Sindh, Hasnain was the pick of the bowlers taking three wickets for 42 runs.

Sindh were off to a decent start and were well on track to chase down another high score in back-to-back matches. They were 93 in 8.2 overs when their second-wicket fell. The fall of Ahsan Ali (23 off 13) initiated a collapse which saw their next three batsmen – Anwar Ali, Abid Ali and Asad Shafiq – fall in a span of 14 balls.

Rearguard efforts from Saud Shakeel (28 off 20) and Sarfaraz Ahmed (36 off 25) instilled a ray of hope in the run chase. But, with the wicket of Saud, on the first ball of the 16th over, Balochistan had pocketed the game. Sindh were all-out on 181 in 19.4 overs, with Amad this time starring with the ball by taking three wickets for 32 runs. The other notable performance with the ball came from the young speedster Akif Javed who took three wickets for 42 runs.

SCORES IN BRIEF:

SOUTHERN PUNJAB: 135-9, 20 overs (Aamer Yamin 33, Sohaib Maqsood 25; Sohail Tanvir 3-27, Mohammad Aamir 2-19)

NORTHERN: 137-5, 19 overs (Asif Ali 44, Umar Amin 50, M Nawaz 24; Mohammad Irfan 2-19, Zahid Mahmood 2-14)

BALOCHISTAN: 233-6, 20 overs (Awais Zia 77, Bismillah Khan 54, Amad Butt 31; Mohammad Hasnain 3-42)

SINDH: 181 all-out, 19.4 overs (Abid Ali 41, Sarfaraz Ahmed 36, Khurram Manzoor 33, Saud Shakeel 28, Ahsan Ali 23; Amad Butt 3-32, Akif Javed 3-42)