Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) have comfortably beaten Central Punjab by 37 runs in the second game of the National T20 Cup 2021. The day-night match was played at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi.
After winning the toss, Central Punjab captain Babar Azam opted to bowl first. The decision proved costly after KP captain Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman took an aggressive start. The duo added a 67-run partnership for the first wicket, which was broken when Fakhar left for 26.
However, Rizwan continued his fine form and slapped seven fours and a six in a 40-ball 65, while Iftikhar’s 25-ball 40 included six fours and a six that helped the defending champions to collect 187 for five in 20 overs after being put to bat on Thursday evening.
For Central Punjab, Hasan Ali was as impressive as ever with three for 30, while Ahmed Safi Abdullah and Wahab Riaz picked up a wicket each conceding 23 and 31 runs, respectively.
Chasing a large total, Central Punjab needed a strong start, but they lost Kamran Akmal for 3 in the fourth over. Babar showed some resistance, but he was trapped leg before wicket by experienced left-arm spinner Asif Afridi for 29. Later, Ahmed Shehzad (24) was removed by Arshad Iqbal in the 10th over to slip to 71 for three at the halfway stage before finishing at 151/9.
Muhammad Akhlaq fought a lone battle with a breezy 62 but lacked the support and big-hitting from the other end as the required run-rate continued to climb. When he eventually departed at the total of 128 in the 17th, it was all over for Central Punjab who ultimately fell 36 runs short. Akhlaq’s 35-ball cameo included six fours and four sixes.
For Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Shaheen Shah Afridi was the pick of bowlers with three for 25, while Arshad Iqbal and Imran Khan claimed two wickets apiece.