Iftikhar’s Feats Help Punjab Bag Maiden Victory

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Iftikhar's Feats Help Punjab Bag Maiden Victory

In-form, Iftikhar Ahmed helped Punjab register first victory in the Pakistan Cup 2019 after they routed Federal Areas by 7 wickets in a high-scoring game played here, at Pindi Stadium, on late Monday night.

Federal Areas set Punjab a daunting target of 322 runs for win. Punjab was soon in trouble, as both openers Kamran Akmal and Khurram Manzoor were back in quick succession after scoring a decent 47-run opening partnership in 9.4 overs.

First Kamran left the crease and then Khurram also, was sent packing 65.

Sami Aslam and Iftikhar Ahmed were involved in precious 116-run third-wicket partnership, which not only consolidated Punjab’s position, but also put them on path of victory.

After playing so well, Sami was trapped lbw by Asad Afridi. He scored stylish 81 off 73 balls with the help of 10 boundaries and two sixes. Iftikhar was not only protecting one-end, but also scoring quick runs.

Iftikhar and Saad Ali added significant unbeaten 146 runs for the fourth-wicket stand.

Iftikhar scored unbeaten 109 off 89 deliveries as his masterful innings included six boundaries and as many sixes. His out-of-the-park sixes were a treat to watch for the ever-increasing passionate Pindi crowd, who were chanting his name and were demanding Iftikhar to hit more.

Saad Ali also batted superbly and scored unbeaten 50-ball 76 studded with 11 fours and one six. Punjab reached home in 46.4 overs with 7 wickets to spare.

Khurram Shahzad, M Nawaz and Asad Afridi shared a wicket apiece conceding 32, 71 and 75 runs respectively.

Nawaz, who was otherwise highly economical, was given real harsh treatment by Punjab batters. Iftikhar and Waleed Ahmed were declared joint players of the match.

Earlier, Kamran Akmal won the toss and opted to field first. His decision failed to bring desired results, as Federal Areas posted massive 321-10 in 49.4 overs.

Defending champions Federal Areas entered the match to fight for the pride rather than a place in the final, as they were out along with Punjab for the final race after the match between KP and Baluchistan was rained out and both were awarded a point each.

Federal Areas got off to flying start as Ahmad Shehzad and Israrullah posted massive 157 runs for opening partnership. Both played with authority and none of the Punjab bowlers could pose any challenge to Federal Areas openers.

It was off spinner Waleed Ahmed, son of legendary off spinner Tauseef Ahmed, proved to be the difference between the two teams as first he removed Ahmed Shehzad at his personal score 74, which he gathered by hitting 11 fours and 1 six.

Waleed then got rid of Saud Shakeel (2), skipper Muhammad Rizwan and then Israrullah.

Sohaib Maqsood and Muhammad Nawaz were involved in 59-run sixth-wicket stand, but once again just when the things were looking good, Nawaz was removed for 25.

Sohaib played sensibly and posted first half century after a long gap. He scored 55 with the help of 2 fours and 5 sixes.

Waleed was star performer with 4 wickets for 59. He has announced his arrival at the horizon and showed glimpses of his father’s peak days, while Muhammad Sami captured 3 wickets for 69.

It will be highly unjust if Pindi Stadium chief curator Riaz and his team’s hard work is not recognized. A day earlier, heavy rain played havoc with the ground and outfield was badly affected, while pitch was under cover, but majority of the playing area was left opened.

Riaz and his team did tremendous work and ensured not only outfield to be in perfect shape, but also the pitch was full of runs and there was help for the bowlers as well. Such hard workers need to be rewarded.

Scorecard:

FEDERAL AREAS:

Ahmed Shehzad c Saad Ali b Waleed Ahmed    74

Israrullah lbw b Waleed Ahmed…………… 96

Saud Shakeel c Saad Ali b Waleed Ahmed 2

Mohammad Rizwan b Waleed Ahmed….. 13

Sohaib Maqsood lbw b M Sami……………. 55

Rameez Raja b Iftikhar Ahmed………………. 0

M Nawaz c Hussain Talat b Sohail Tanvir 25

Asad Afridi c Hussain Talat b M Sami…… 19

Bilal Asif c Kamran Akmal b Sohail Tanvir 16

Khurram Shehzad not out……………………… 2

Sadaf Hussain c Khurram Manzoor b Sami 11

EXTRAS:  (b2, lb1, nb2, w3)…………………… 8

TOTAL: (all out, 49.4 overs)………………. 321

FOW: 1-158, 2-166, 3-189, 4-190, 5-191, 6-250, 7-277, 8-308, 9-308, 10-321

BOWLING: Sohail Tanvir 10-0-73-2, Mohammad Sami 9.4-0-69-3, Mohammad Asghar 10-0-54-0, Waleed Ahmed 10-1-59-4, Hussain Talat 3-0-28-0, Iftikhar Ahmed 7-0-35-1

PUNJAB:

Khurram Manzoor c Bilal Asif b M Nawaz 39

Kamran Akmal c Asad b Khurram Shehzad 15

Sami Aslam lbw b Asad Afridi………………. 81

Iftikhar Ahmed not out………………………. 109

Saad Ali not out………………………………….. 76

EXTRAS: (lb4, w3)………………………………… 7

TOTAL: (3 wkts; 46.4 overs)………………. 327

FOW: 1-47, 2-65, 3-181

BOWLING: Sadaf Hussain 8.4-0-67-0, Khurram Shehzad 7-1-32-1, Mohammad Nawaz 10-0-71-1, Bilal Asif 10-1-72-0, Asad Afridi 10-0-75-1, Israrullah 1-0-6-0

TOSS: Punjab

UMPIRES: Mohammad Sajid, Khalid Mahmood

TV UMPIRE: Zameer Haider

MATCH REFEREE: Nadeem Arshad