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Central Punjab hold on to three-run win despite Rizwan's unbeaten 99
Match Report

Central Punjab hold on to three-run win despite Rizwan's unbeaten 99

Central Punjab squeezed out a narrow three-win over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to keep their faint hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals of the National T20 Cup.

The Babar Azam-led side was faced by a major obstacle in Mohammad Rizwan, who almost guided KP to a thrilling victory under lights at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.

For a major part of their chase, KP looked far behind the ballpark before Rizwan inspired his team back into the contest alongside a couple of brief cameos from Iftikhar Ahmed and Musadiq Ahmed.

Rizwan initially took plenty of time to settle in following a spate of early blows inflicted by Waqas Maqsood and Ehsan Adil.

Fakhar Zaman met a rare failure when he was dismissed in the third over whereas Shoaib Malik got out at the halfway stage of KP's innings, leaving a stiff task for the lower middle-order.

Having reached his half-century off 49 balls, Rizwan then accelerated in dazzling fashion to swiftly pick up the pace and insert the much-needed impetus in KP's pursuit of the 175-run target.

During this time, his stellar effort was supported by Iftikhar's 13-ball 21 and Musadiq's rapid 17. Rizwan's late onslaught saw him deposit the ball outside the boundary fence six times and thwack seven fours.

He hit two fours and a six off Ehsan's bowling in the last over to bring the equation down to six from the final ball of the match but could not find the right elevation to clear the rope and only a double on the decisive delivery.

Rizwan was thus one short of the elusive three-figure mark and three runs short of Central Punjab's total on the board.

Central Punjab, who have climbed to No. 4 after the win, were helped by majestic knocks from youngsters Abdullah Shafique and Mohammad Akhlaq to take them to an imposing score.

Kamran Akmal was dismissed for a duck by Imran Khan whereas Babar could not find his typical fluency throughout his 33-ball 39.

At one stage, Central Punjab seemed destined for a mediocre total but Abdullah and Akhlaq steadied them with an aggressive partnership to rejuvenate their innings.

Man-of-the-match Akhlaq finished with an unbeaten 50 off 29 balls embellished with four fours and three maximums.

“I am happy that I helped the team reach that mark as the instructions of the captain and the management was to set a total past the 170-run mark and we succeeded in achieving our target with a good finish in the death overs," Akhlaq reacted to his match-winning contribution.