Islamabad: (Asghar Ali Mubarak) The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa opener Abid Ali scored a superb 132 off just 119 to guide his side to yet another Pakistan Cup title against Balochistan with a nine-run win at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.The right-hander lost opening partner and skipper Salman Butt very early on for just two off eleven balls but combined for a century stand alongside Mohammad Saad.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s middle-order caved though after Saad was dismissed by joint top wicket-taker Amad Butt, who had a nightmare of a night as he went for 1-89 in his 10 overs.
Former Pakistan international Sohail Khan provided some lusty hitting at the end though as he smashed 45 off just 20 balls to take his side to a daunting 307-5.
In reply, Balochistan got off to a decent start despite losing Zeeshan Ashraf for 16. Awais Zia (83) and Asad Shafiq (48) had the side going at more than six an over after 20 overs but no player went on to play the big innings despite several batsmen getting starts.
Tournament top-scorer Umar Akmal was dismissed for 23 off 16 balls and Fawad Alam scored 48 before returning to the pavilion, with the middle-order duo surely being disappointed at their inability to play the long knock.
Sohail Khan followed up his unbeaten 45 with three wickets but was expensive in his 10 overs as he claimed 3-75.
However, his all-round performance was enough to win him the man-of-the-match award and hand his side the title.
“Brilliant one for us because we lacked a bit of experience with the bat,” said skipper Salman. “But credit to the players and the way they fought. Whenever the team needed them, they put their hand up. It was a great team effort and I was lucky as a captain because of the way the players responded. We wanted to enjoy the occasion and we treated it as just another day.”
Salman also heaped praise on the cup. “It’s special because this was the first time that I had led a team in the Pakistan Cup and this is the premium cup. The only thing we are lacking is the number of List A matches though. I think the number needs to go up, there is no reason that two or three tournaments aren’t added to the roster since we are struggling in fifty-over and Test matches.