LAHORE – Shoaib Malik-led Sialkot Stallions set the Faysal Bank Super Eight Twenty20 Cup final clash with Faisalabad Wolves to be played today (Sunday) here at the jam-packed Gaddafi Stadium at 7pm.

In the first semi-final, Ehsan Adil held his nerves in the last over to snatch the game from the jaws of Lahore Lions and took Faisalabad Wolves to the Faysal Bank Super Eight Twenty20 Cup final. Wolves won the toss and decided to bat first. Though Wolves were off to flying start and scored 22 runs in 2.4 overs yet Lions’ bowlers bowled well to restrict them to 125-8 in 20 overs. Lions captain M Hafeez destroyed the Wolves’ innings by grabbing 3-30. Adnan Rasool also bowled well and took 2-27 while Aizaz Cheema, Ziaul Haq and Wahab Riaz got one wicket apiece.

Farrukh Shehzad and Ali Waqas played a 22-run first-wicket partnership before Hafeez bowled Farrukh at 18. Ali Waqas, who remained key batsman for Wolves throughout the tournament, could not contribute well and was bowled out by Ziaul Haq at 11. Misbahul Haq once again played captain innings and managed to collect 45 runs for the third-wicket partnership. At that time, the match was totally in control of Wolves as both the batsmen were playing well and adding runs in their team’s total. In the 12th over, Wahab Riaz came to the front and took the wicket of Misbah when he was at 19. After Misbah’s dismissal, Khurram Shehzad (27), Asif Ali (19) and Imran Khalid (20) showed some resistance to Lions’ bowlers and added noteworthy runs in their team’s total making it 125-8 after the completion of 20 overs.

Lions, in reply, lost Ahmed Shehzad cheaply at the score of five when Asad Ali took his wicket. Test cricketer Nasir Jamshed and captain M Hafeez played significant second-wicket partnership and added 57 runs. With this much-needed partnership, it seemed Lahore would achieve the target easily but soon after Hafeez lost his wicket when the team’s score was 70, all the Lahore batsmen fell cheaply. Nasir was top scorer with 46 off 39 balls with seven fours while Hafeez managed 36 off 27 balls with the help of three fours and two sixes. Sohail Ahmad also batted well and contributed 20-ball 19 but all went in vain as Lions lost the match when they were very close to snatch the victory as they required only nine runs in the last over with three wickets in their hands. But Ehsan Adil excelled for his team with his tremendous bowling 3-23 and was ably assisted by Imran Khalid who claimed 2-31. Ehsan was named man of the match for his wonderful performance.

In the second semi-final, Rana Navedul Hasan’s excellent bowling led Sialkot Stallions to three-run nail-biting victory over Rawalpindi Rams. Stallions won the toss and opted to bat first. Shakeel Ansar lost his wicket early at seven runs when Yasir Arafat took his wicket in 3.3 overs. Soon after Shakeel’s wicket, Shahid Yousaf also wasted his wickets at 16 in the hands of Hammad Azam. Shoaib Malik then took the responsibility and played the captain innings. First he added 29 runs for the third-wicket partnership with Rana Naved and after Naved fell at 15 in 10. 4 overs, he along with Mansoor Amjad added 30 runs for the fourth-wicket partnership. It was Umar Amin who clinched Mansoor’s wicket when he batting at 18. After that, no other batsman could face Rams’ bowlers well and kept on losing their wickets cheaply. Shoaib Malik remained top scorer with his dazzling 35-ball 44-runs knock laced with five fours.

In reply, Rams though played well and reached very close to victory but Rana Naved’s intelligent bawling restricted them to 136 runs. Rams’ start was not very impressive as they lost three of their wickets for 31 runs. Shoaib Malik was the wrecker of the Rams’ innings with his 2-24. Rana Naved also played crucial role in Stallions victory by notching up 3-20. His last over was remarkable in which he clinched two of his three wickets including one run out conceding only four runs which guided Stallions to three-run win.

Umar Waheed remained top scorer for Rams with unbeaten 44 while Umar Amin (24) and Sohail Tanveer (17) were the other batsmen who reached double figures. Adeel Malik also bowled well taking two wickets for 25. Shoaib Malik was declared player of the match for his superb all-round performance.