Umar Akmal continued his push for a spot in the World Cup squad with yet another match-winning knock for Balochistan to take his side to the top of the Pakistan Cup standings.
Asad Shafiq’s men went into the game against Federal Areas with their unbeaten record intact and their 23-run win further extends it to four games, with three wins and one washed out game.
Federal skipper Mohammad Rizwan won the toss and elected to field first in Rawalpindi, a decision that paid dividend at the start as Balochistan were reduced to 15-2 with both their openers back in the pavilion by the fourth over.
Shafiq then settled the ship with a superb 151-run stand alongside man-of-the-match Ali Imran. By the time the skipper was run out for 72 off 83 balls, the stage had been set for Umar Akmal to tee off.
Imran fell soon after for 77 off 85 balls but Umar continued his counter-charge with a superb 77 off just 45 balls as he hit four sixes and six fours to become the top-scorer so far with 319 runs at an average of over 106.
Federal bowlers did well to keep taking wickets at the death to ensure that Balochistan didn’t cross the 300-run mark, being dismissed for 289 with one over to go.
Sadaf Hussain was the chief destroyer, claiming 4-46 in his seven overs.
Ahmed Shehzad and Israrullah got Federal Areas off to a strong start as the openers put on 76 at a run-rate of better than six.
Saud Shakeel and Rizwan then settled the ship with an 87-run stand but there was precious little in terms of partnerships for the chasing side after that as they lost their final eight wickets for just 93 runs.
Rizwan led from the front with a superb 76 off 67 balls but failed to get his side over the line.
Amad Butt was the pick of the bowlers for Balochistan, claiming three wickets to go top of the bowling charts with nine wickets to his name.