The partnership helped them chase a mammoth total
Salman Ali Agha’s sparkling 68 not out off 40 and Aamer Yamin’s blazing 21-ball 41 kept Southern Punjab’s semi-final hopes alive with a four-wicket win over Northern at the Gaddafi Stadium in their National T20 Cup match on Wednesday.
Southern Punjab chased a daunting 212-run target on the penultimate ball to record their first win in seven matches in the National T20 2021-22.
The pair had come together with 82 required off the last eight overs when Aamer, the Southern Punjab captain, joined Salman after the dismissal of Azam Khan, who smoked three sixes and a four as he blasted 23 off just nine.
Southern Punjab’s run chase had gotten off to a desired start as opener Zeeshan Ashraf spanked experienced T20 bowler Sohail Tanvir for two consecutive sixes in the first over. He was sent packing in the next over by Imad Wasim, not before he had smashed the left-arm orthodox for a four.
Zeeshan’s opening partner Sohaib Maqsood (23 off 14) and Tayyab Tahir (15 off nine) ensured that they continued to match the required run-rate as Southern Punjab made 57 by the end of the fifth over and finished the powerplay at 60 for three – 15 more than the average score in the first six overs at the venue since 2020.
Left-handed Khushdil Shah clubbed two sixes and as many fours in his 16-ball stay at the wicket, which brought him 24.
The match, however, was decided by the blistering 76-run partnership between Salman, who recorded his best T20 score, and Aamer brought up in 44 balls. Aamer smashed three sixes and two fours, while Salman’s player of the match innings was studded with five gigantic sixes and four fours.
That Northern had set up an imposing total was because of Haider Ali’s scintillating 72 not out off 40 – his third half-century of the tournament. The 21-year-old blasted seven fours and four towering sixes and his superlative knock left him only six runs behind tournament’s leading run scorer Babar Azam, who has accumulated 286 runs.
Despite losing both openers in the powerplay, Northern gathered 52 runs. Their innings, however, was largely anchored by Haider, who knitted electrifying partnerships with Mohammad Nawaz, who brought his 38 runs at a strike rate of 152, and Imad Wasim, who spanked 40 at staggering rate of 222.
An eventful powerplay was followed by a four-over lull in which young Southern Punjab spinners – Hassan Khan and Faisal Akram – allowed just 19. The innings, however, turned on its head in the 11th over with Nawaz spanking back-to-back sixes. The left-handed batter, who has made two half-centuries in the tournament, smashed four sixes and a four in total. The pair added 85 in 46 balls.
With the stage set for late blitz, Imad smashed six fours and a six after he walked out to bat with 4.1 overs remaining in the innings. His brilliance with the bat, coupled with extraordinary improvisation, which saw him reverse sweep pace bowlers for boundaries, added 63 runs in the last 25 balls.