Fast bowler Ahmed Bashir took his career-best figures (four for 23) as Central Punjab earned much-needed two points in the 22nd match of the National T20 Cup for First XI teams with a comfortable nine-wicket victory against Balochistan at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on Monday night.
The 24-year-old Ahmed, who had taken three wickets in his first appearance of the tournament against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa last Tuesday in Multan, took his tournament tally to seven wickets from a mere two appearances with a fine bowling effort on a pitch that offered some assistance to both seamers and spinners as Balochistan were restricted to 125 for eight in 20 overs.
Central Punjab batsmen then coasted past the target with captain Babar Azam making another entry in the record books by reaching 1000 runs in National T20 Cup in a mere 27 innings (fastest-ever). Babar followed his 86 not out and 86 in the previous two games with an exquisite unbeaten 64-run innings (40 balls, nine fours, two sixes).
Babar added 86 runs for the first-wicket with Kamran Akmal in a mere 9.4 overs, Kamran was dismissed by Amad Butt for 33 (27 balls, six fours)
Babar and Abdullah Shafiq finished the game with 38 balls to spare with an undefeated second-wicket stand of 41 runs; Abdullah scored 27 off 15 balls (four fours).
Reflecting on his performance, man-of-the-match Ahmed Bashir said: “The pitch is supporting the bowlers here as this is a faster pitch compared to Multan. The captain and coach told me to bowl as per the field. I also bowled slower ones and yorkers as they instructed and got the desired results for my team.”
Central Punjab have now accumulated six points from eight matches (three wins, five losses) while Balochistan have a tally of eight from as many games (four wins, four losses).
Scores in brief
Balochistan 125-8, 20 overs (Hairs Sohail 41, Akbar-ur-Rehman 19; Ahmed Bashir 4-23,Qasim Akram 2-7)
Central Punjab 127-1, 13.4 overs (Babar Azam 64 not out, Kamran Akmal 33, Abdullah Shafiq 27 not out; Amad Butt 1-23)
Result – Central Punjab won by nine wickets
Man-of-the-match – Ahmed Bashir (Central Punjab)