Babar Azam led from the front to lead Central Punjab to an eight-time wicket win over defending champions Northern in the 15th game of the T20 National Cup for the first XI teams and the first of 19 matches scheduled at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.
Northern v Central Punjab | Pakistan National T20 Cup Match 15 Highlights
Northern, who came into play with 10 wins in the National T20 Cup, had no answer to Babar’s brilliance with the racket. Babar and the all-rounder Faheem Ashraf (Man of the Game) made their first appearance in the tournament an unforgettable experience with performances in which they won the game.
Central Punjab set a victory goal of 166 runs and rolled out to 167 in just 17 overs for two. Babar returned unbeaten with typically elegant 86 of 52 balls (11 fours, two sixes). Faheem followed his bowling spell with four wickets to turn 26 balls into 52. His innings included two sixes and seven fours. The two added 105 runs for their unbroken third wicket partnership in just 51 balls.
Central Punjab had lost Kamran Akmal for 21 and Abdullah Shafiq for three when Faheem came to Babar.
“My performance today is due to prayer, especially since I’ve had problems recently. Our team’s attitude today was to win the game. My goal in hitting with Babar was to make sure we hit until the end. Babar asked me to stay until the end as it guarantees a comfortable win for us. “
After Northern winning the throw, he recovered first and recovered well to score 165 for nine after Faheem, who took three wickets in his two over-opening bursts with just seven runs, took the top spot with an inspired pace- Bowling spells had eliminated.
Faheem sent Zeeshan Malik (9), Sohail Akhtar (17) and Rohail Nazir (4) back to stumble Northern at 52 for four. The leftist Sohaibullah had made the first breakthrough when he fired Umar Amin for a duck.
Northern was saved by an 87-run (56 ball) stand for the fifth wicket between Asif Ali and Shadab Khan. Asif hit five sixes and four fours in his 67-run attempt with 40 balls. Shadab scored 39 of 25 balls and hit five fours in his innings. Northern finished the race a few runs short, however, as the lower order failed to sustain Asif and Shadab’s momentum.
Faheem added Hammad Azams wicket in his second spell, finishing it with four wickets for 18 runs. Usman Qadir (two for 36) and Ehsan Adil (two for 37) were the other main wicket takers for Central Punjab.
Meanwhile, captain Imad Wasim and Sohail Akhtar made their first appearance for the tournament, while Haris Rauf was brought back to the team.