LAHORE: Central Punjab won the Second XI National T20 Cup title with a seven-wicket win over Northern in the last match of the single-league event at the Gaddafi Stadium on Thursday.
The Nauman Anwar-led side topped the six-team points table with four wins from their five matches, while Northern finished on the last spot without winning a single match.
An unbeaten 57-ball 66 by Junaid Ali set the comfortable victory as Central Punjab overhauled the 134-run target with 11 balls to spare. Wicketkeeper-batsman took the lead role in the innings after Nauman, who made a quickfire 26 from 13 balls hitting four fours and a six, was dismissed by Athar Mehmood, who took two wickets for 36 runs.
Northern managed to score 133 for eight after their captain Central Punjab elected to bat. Aamer Jamal scored 38 not out including four sixes, providing some respite to the defending champions who had half of their batting line-up back in the pavilion for just 37 runs. Sarmad Bhatti was the other notable run-scorer in the innings scoring 33 off 28 balls.
Reflecting on Central Punjab’s run in the to, Nauman Anwar said it has been an exciting journey and played some quality cricket despite the COVID-19 protocol. He said the memorable match was the opening match against Sindh as the rivalry always brings out the best from all the players
During the tournament, as many as four bowlers picked up eight wickets each and the two bowlers with the best average amongst them belong to Central Punjab. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Sameen Gul took eight wickets for 18.50. Northern’s Athar gave away 19.63 runs for his eight wickets.
Balochistan’s Abdul Wahid Bangalzai, Southern Punjab’s Zain Abbas and Central Punjab’s Mohammad Akhlaq finished as the top three run-getters with 235, 193 and 185 respectively. All three earned call-ups for the second-leg of the First XI National T20 Cup which starts in Rawalpindi on Friday.
Twenty-year-old Akhlaq who scored three half-centuries will travel to Rawalpindi to integrate with the First XI squad. Head coach of Central Punjab Second XI team Akram Raza said Akhlaq possess all the desired skills to thrive at the top level and has been impressive throughout this competition.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Southern Punjab, locked at six points each, finish at number two and three positions. Sindh and Balochistan end their Second XI National T20 Cup on fourth and fifth position.
Northern 133-8, 20 overs (Aamer Jamal 38 not out, Sarmad Bhatti 33; Waqas Maqsood 3-23, Kamran Afzal 2-14, Mohammad Ali 2-30)
Central Punjab 134-3, 18.1 overs (Junaid Ali 66 not out, Nauman Anwar 26; Athar Mehmood 2-36)
Result – Central Punjab won by seven wickets