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Khushdil 35-ball ton trumps Manzoor 108 as Southern Punjab register stunning win
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Khushdil 35-ball ton trumps Manzoor 108 as Southern Punjab register stunning win

Southern Punjab looked all but out of the contest against Sindh in Rawalpindi before Khushdil Shah inspired one of the most remarkable comebacks in the format by thrashing a record 35-ball century.

Khushdil surpassed Ahmed Shehzad to smash the fastest T20 century by a Pakistan batsman and take his team within touching distance of the mammoth 217-run target. The finishing touches were provided by tail-ender Dilbar Hussain as Southern Punjab held on to a nerve-racking two-wicket win to open their account in the competition.

Khushdil had entered proceedings with Southern Punjab bruised and battered at 43-4 in the seventh over as he soon launched his unbelievable blitz.

The innings which began with a couple of ambitious slogs to signal positive intent immediately converted into an outrageous onslaught with Khushdil feasting on the short boundaries on offer in the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.

The 25-year-old cleared the boundary fence with ease a total of nine times and bludgeoned eight fours to power his side into the driving seat.

Khushdil dominated the electrifying fourth-wicket stand that lasted merely 54 balls but saw the flamboyant left-hander and batting partner Hussain Talat pound 127 runs.

As was the consistent pattern of Khushdil's blinding charge, he reached the magical three-figure mark with another maximum hammered off the bowling of Anwar Ali.

However, he perished off the next delivery but not before imprinting his name in the record books as the fifth-fastest centurion in 20-over cricket.

Aamer Yamin and Mohammad Ilyas fell in quick succession, piling up pressure on the defiant Talat. The 24-year-old was removed for a well-crafted 62 from 36 balls, handing Anwar his fourth wicket of the night leaving room for another possible twist in the riveting chase.

Dilbar, nonetheless, showcased nerves of steel to deposit the first ball of the decisive last over bowled by Hassan Khan way beyond the boundary rope. Following a dot delivery, Dilbar nudged the ball for a single and Umer Khan struck the runs by sprinting between the wickets for a double as Southern Punjab eventually broke their winless rut.

Khushdil's incredible knock was not the only three-digit score of the match since Khurram Manzoor had set the stage alight earlier with the fourth century of his T20 career.

The domestic stalwart was in fine touch throughout his 58-ball stay at the crease as he evenly paced his innings to thrust Sindh in a supreme position.

Manzoor's fantastic 108 was accompanied by an elegant half-century from Asad Shafiq, who is generally deemed a Test specialist.

The two veterans were involved in an outstanding 123-run partnership for the second wicket to inject the momentum in Sindh's innings after a pedestrian Sharjeel Khan was dismissed cheaply.

Brief cameos from Anwar Ali and Azam Khan ultimately hauled Sindh to an imposing total of 216-3 that surprisingly proved to be insufficient.