LAHORE - Dazzling knock by Asif Ali steered Islamabad Region to a hard-fought 2-wicket victory over spirited Karachi Region Whites in the National Twenty20 Cup match at Multan Stadium on Friday.

Islamabad Region won the toss & elected to field first. Karachi Region Whites though lost their first wicket cheaply when Awais Zia was sent packing by Umar Gul in the fourth over, they managed to steadied their innings and kept on adding runs to make their total respectable. They piled up a total of 156-6 in allotted overs.

Danish Aziz was main contributor from Karachi Whites as he thwarted unbeaten 43 runs off 27 balls with the help of six boundaries and one six while Rameez Raja Junior contributed 22-ball 30 runs studded with two fours and as many sixes while opener Khurram Manzoor contributed significant 26 hitting four boundaries. For Islamabad Region, Adeel Malik bagged two wickets for 26 while Imad Wasim, Arsal Sheikh, Umer Gul and Ahmed Bashir got one wicket apiece.

It was Asif Ali’s unbeaten 97 runs innings which helped Islamabad Region chase down the required target on the very last ball for the loss of eight wickets. Abid Ali played 82 balls in his unbeaten 97 knock which included seven boundaries and five smashing sixes. Ali Sarfraz also played a significant innings of 26 runs off 23 balls which included three fours while captain Imad Wasim could score only 13.

Muhammad Asghar bowled brilliantly by bagging 3 wickets for 29 while Arshad Iqbal claimed 2 for 23 and Raza Hasan 1 for 27 but their efforts couldn’t bear fruit for Karachi Whites. Asif Ali was named man of the match. Qaiser Waheed and Rashid Riaz performed the duties as field umpires while Waleed Yaqoob was TV umpire, Khalid Niazi referee and lMuhammad Atiq official scorer.

In the second match of the day, Rawalpindi Region defeated Multan Region by 3 wickets. Muhammad Nawaz five-wicket haul and swashbuckling knocks of Saud Shakeel (54) and Hammad Azam (44*) were the main contributions which made victory possible for Rawalpindi Region. While Sohaib Maqsood’s unbeaten 75 couldn’t help Multan Region score victory.

Put into bat first, Multan Region started well but then most of their batsmen fell cheaply as only three of their players could cross the double figures. Sohaib Maqsood emerged as top scorer for Multan as he played blustering unbeaten knock of 75 runs of 54 balls hitting five fours and four sixes while Zeeshan Malik contributed 38 and Aamer Yamin 14 runs. Muhammad Nawaz was the only bowler of Rawalpindi Region who grabbed all the five wickets conceding 24 runs as one of Multan batsman was run out.

Rawalpindi Region though couldn’t start well and kept on losing their wickets on regular intervals yet their middle order played sensible innings and not only steadied their innings but also safely landed their team home as they achieved the target in 19.5 overs losing 7 wickets. Saud Shakeel emerged as top scorer with 54 runs off 35 balls studded with 7 boundaries while Hammad Azam struck unbeaten 44. Aamir Yamin captured 3 wickets for 36, Muhammad Irfan 2 for 23 and Zulfiqar Babar and Muhammad Imran got one wicket each for Multan. M Nawaz was declared player of the match.

SCORES IN BRIEF:

FIRST MATCH

KARACHI REGION WHITES: 156-6 in 20 overs (Danish Aziz 43*, 27 balls, 6x4s,1x6, Rameez Raja 30, 22  balls, 2x4s, 2x6x, Khurram Manzoor 26, 29 balls, 4x4s, Adeel Malik 2-26, Imad Wasim 1-24, Arsal Sheikh 1-28, Umer Gul 1-34, Ahmed Bashir 1-40)

ISLAMABAD REGION: 157-8 in 20 overs (Asif Ali 97*, 82 balls, 7x4s, 5x6s, Ali Sarfraz 26, 23 balls, 3x4s, Muhammad Asghar 3-29, Arshad Iqbal 2-23, Raza Hasan 1-27)

SECOND MATCH

MULTAN REGION: 152-6 in 20 overs (Sohaib Maqsood 75*, 54 balls, 5x4s. 4x6s, Zeeshan Malik 38, 35 balls, 6x4s, Muhammad Nawaz 5-24)

RAWALPINDI REGION: 157-7 in 19.5 overs (Saud Shakeel 54, 35 balls, 7x4s, Hammad Azam 44*, 23 balls, 4x4s, 1x6, Aamir Yamin 3-36, Muhammad Irfan 2-23, Zulfiqar Babar 1-19, Muhammad Imran 1-35)