Northern win a nerve-wracking contest against KPK to march into final
The man of the match Haris Rauf, representing Northern, delivered the goods when it mattered the most by bowling a match-winning final over. He took three wickets in the last six balls against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) and propelled his team into the final of the National T20 Cup. Haris' crucial over overshadowed Usman Shinwari's fifer.
Northern, batting first, scrambled to a modest total of 148 after a terrible start to their innings. They were pegged back by Usman's opening burst - who went on to bag a five-wicket haul in the nail-biting affair.
Umar Amin cashed in on his good form and accumulated 43 runs off just 33 balls. There were no other significant contributions apart from a vital cameo from Asif Ali (28) coupled with a run-a-ball innings from Rohail Nazir (21) and then the final punch came from Shadab Khan, who scored 16, that helped Northern knit up a reasonable total.
KPK didn't have a convincing start to their chase as Sahibzada Farhan was dismissed without troubling the scorers and captain Mohammad Rizwan got outgunned by a ripper from Mohammad Amir - leaving KPK hobbling at 24-2.
However, Fakhar Zaman didn't disappoint and resurrected the innings by adding 39 runs before mistiming a shot - which didn't bode well for KPK.
Iftikhar Ahmed did a major rebuilding work thereafter by thumping a half-century, but his efforts also went in vain as he couldn't finish the game.
Khushdil Shah, who has been selected for the upcoming T20 series against Australia, kept KPK in the hunt and got his team within touching distance of cementing a berth in the final but he got dismissed just at the wrong time on 22.
There was no real resistance afterwards as the last five batsmen couldn't clear the boundary rope. Haris Rauf went for plenty in his first two overs and got slugged by Iftikhar for some picturesque cut shots, but he returned strongly in the last over and repaid skipper Imad Wasim's faith by holding his nerve. He took three wickets that helped Northern edge out KPK by three runs.