Azam Khan and Sarfaraz Ahmed’s brilliant half-century led Sindh to the semi-finals of the T20 National Cup on Wednesday at Pindi Cricket Stadium with a 25-run win against leaders Northern.
Sindh v Northern | Pakistan National T20 Cup 2020 Match 25
Azam shot 88 runs with an astonishing hit rate of 204.65 to record the tournament’s second half century and the third part of his entire T20 career.
The right-handed batsman sewed a crucial 130-run stand for the fourth wicket from just 59 balls with his captain Sarfaraz, who caressed a dazzling 52 from 28 balls, which Sindh increased to an impressive 221 for four.
The two had come together when Saud Shakeel, who replaced Asad Shafiq and scored 25 runs of 18 balls on the back of four fours, was caught by Haider Ali on the last ball of the ninth over Mohammad Nawaz’s bowling. Sindh, who had been asked by Northern Captain Imad Wasim to strike first, was 67 for three at the time.
The partnership between Azam and Sarfaraz has been largely dominated by the former as he contributed 84 runs with a hit rate of 233.
Azam’s stay at the fold was occupied by eight sixs and five fours. He was sacked by Mohammad Amir, who returned two for 42 in four overs on the second ball of the penultimate over after replacing Haris Rauf.
“I feel like I’m entitled to an inning. I struggled to convert my starts into big scores. It is now planned to continue playing this way in the upcoming games.
“Some boundaries gave me the confidence I wanted early on, then Saifi Bhai [Sarfaraz Ahmed] gave me a lot of support and confidence after joining me in the middle. That I had some partnerships with him in the HBL Pakistan Super League 2020 also helped. “
Sarfaraz crushed three sixes and as many fours as he had recorded in his first half century of the tournament.
Northern got a solid start from Umar Amin and Zeeshan Malik as both batsmen fought for half a century and knitted a 116-run stand for the first wicket. Umar made 51 out of 42 balls and hit six fours and two sixes, while Zeeshan raced from 35 balls to 61, crushing three sixes and six fours as his opening partner.
However, the chase turned on the last three balls of the 13th. Anwar Ali, who finished two for 32 of four overs, dismissed both openers on two consecutive balls before Asif Ali (one of one) ran out on the final ball of the over.
A 39-run stand for the fourth wicket between Haider Ali and Shadab Khan promised to get the run back on track. But Mohammad Hasnain, who was Sindh’s choice of bowlers at three for 28, knocked out Haider (27 of 13, four fours and six) in the 17th game before hitting Shadab, who scored 26 of 16 balls, and Rohail sacking Nazir (four out of two) in his next game when Northern, despite four wins in hand, fell 25 runs short of 222 runs.