Kamran Ghulam smacks century as KP beat Northern

Lahore: Kamran Ghulam registered maiden hundred as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa registered a 92-run win over Northern at the Gaddafi Stadium in the last group match of the National T20 Cup.

The victory saw Khyber Pakhtunkhwa end the group stage at the top of the points table with their six wins from 10 matches bringing 12 points. They will face fourth-placed Northern in the first semi-final tomorrow. The second semi-final will be played between second-placed Central Punjab and third-placed Sindh.

Kamran had strolled to the middle at the end of the second over when Israrullah was removed by Athar Mahmood. Upon his arrival at the crease, the right-hander took the steering wheel right away and anchored his side’s innings, helping them gather 52 runs in six overs – six runs more than the average powerplay score at this venue in the tournament – despite the loss of another wicket.

Over the course of his maiden century, Kamran, clubbed six sixes and as many as 10 fours, and his 48-run alliance with wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Haris (15-ball 18) set the launching pad for the power-hitters in the middle-order.

Iftikhar Ahmed’s thunderous 54 not out at a strike rate of over 207 propelled the batting side to an imposing 207 for four. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa captain crunched four sixes and as many fours.

Iftikhar and Kamran added a staggering 93 in the last seven overs during their undefeated 133-run stand, which went down as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is best for the fifth wicket. The pair had come together in the ninth over when leg-spinner Aaqib Liaquat struck twice in an over to send Haris and Nabi Gul back to the hut.

The onslaught began in the 13th over with Kamran bludgeoning Aaqib for three consecutive sixes. From that point, the pair struck at least two boundaries in every over, except for the 14th, which was Nauman Ali’s fourth over. The left-arm orthodox finished as the only bowler in the innings with his economy rate in single digit as he returned none for 19.

Northern had an abysmal start to their run chase as opener Nasir Nawaz was dismissed by Imran Khan Snr on the second ball. Their problems compounded in the fourth over as the other opener, Ali Imran, was run out. They faced the next blow in the next over with one-drop Zeeshan Malik following the two openers back to the pavilion after getting caught off Arshad Iqbal. The scorecard at this stage read 33 for three.

Northern had scored six runs less and lost a wicket more than Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the powerplay as they managed 46 for three in six overs.

Northern lost wickets on regular intervals and with 23-ball 34 and 21-ball 23, wicketkeeper-batter Rohail Nazir and Umar Amin, the Northern captain, were the only notable run-getters.

The match settled for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa when Khalid Usman removed Rohail and Mubasir Khan in back to back overs, which reduced Northern to 98 for seven in 14th over.

From there on, it was only a matter of time. Northern were finally bowled out on the fourth ball of the penultimate over with Asif Afridi removing Aaqib.

Alike Khalid, Imran and Asif were the other two bowlers to finish with two wickets next to their names.