Lahore: Central Punjab registered a thrilling three-wicket win to confirm their semi-final spot as Balochistan were knocked out in the 28th match of National T20 Cup.
Central Punjab joined Northern in the semi-finals while their victory also ensured semi-final qualification for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh. Central Punjab and Northern have 12 points while KP and Sindh are on 10 points.
Sindh will play Balochistan and will eye a victory and a top-two finish, KP have a chance of adding two more points and also finishing in the top two if they overcome Northern in the last group match that will also be played tomorrow, the semi-finals will be played on Tuesday, 12 October.
On Sunday night, set a 163-run target, captain Wahab Riaz delivered the killer blow with three sixes of the 18th over of the innings bowled by Amad Butt. Young all-rounder Qasim Akram had hit a six on the first ball of the over before he handed over the strike to his captain with a single on the second ball. A total of 27 runs were scored in the Amad over, before the over began Central Punjab had needed 29 runs to win.
Wahab (28 off nine, four sixes) and Qasim (13 off five, one four, one six) added 38 runs off 14 balls for the unbroken eight-wicket stand.
The platform for the chase was laid with a 48-run stand between wicketkeeper Muhammad Akhlaq 32 (21 balls and Hussain Talat (20).
Central Punjab wobbled in the chase in the middle overs and had stuttered 98 for five at one stage. Faheem Ashraf revived the chase with a quickfire 27 off 15 balls (one four, three sixes) before Wahab and Qasim combined to take their side past the target.
Earlier, Central Punjab opted to bowl after winning the toss. Balochistan opener Abdullah Shafique once again displayed his impressive T20 batting prowess with his second successive half-century. The right-hander looked in sublime touch as he posted his fourth T20 50. Abdullah top-scored for Balochistan with 60 off 42 balls (three fours, four sixes).
Abdullah held the Balochistan innings together as wickets fell at regular intervals at the other end. None of the top and middle-order batters could reach double figures. Abdullah finally found an able ally in Amad Butt, the two added 46 runs for the sixth-wicket.
Amad hit a scintillating 43 off 27 balls (two fours, three sixes), the all-rounder remained unbeaten. Amad added 40 runs for the seventh-wicket with Umaid Asif who tonked two sixes in his 15 off five balls.
Sameen Gul who was later adjudged player of the match, bowled an outstanding spell for Central Punjab taking three wickets for 20 runs in his four overs. Mohammad Faizan took two wickets.