KARACHI: Spinner Asif Afridi and opener Sahibzada Farhan were the standout performers on Sunday as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa retained their Pakistan Cup title with a comprehensive seven-wicket defeat of Central Punjab in the final here at the SBP Sports Complex.
The decider of the 50-over competition failed to provide the anticipated spills and thrills while the unstoppable Khyber Pakhtunkhwa stamped their authority by cruising home with as many as 83 deliveries to spare. And one was more proud than the former Pakistan all-rounder Abdul Razzaq, who in his maiden season in the role of head coach, masterminded his charges to three national titles within the space of just 3½ months.
Back in October, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, then skippered by Pakistan wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan, beat Southern Punjab by 10 runs in the final at Rawalpindi. And then the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy title-decider in early January concluded in the first-ever tie in a domestic first-class final anywhere in the world as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Central Punjab were declared joint champions.
However, Central Punjab were no match at all for their ruthless opponents on Sunday. Opting to bowl first upon winning the toss, the Khalid Usman-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa never let the batting side dominate through tight bowling and exceptionally brilliant fielding.
Barring opener Tayyab Tahir, who held his end intact until Central Punjab lost two wickets in the same Asif over — the 32nd of the innings — Raza Ali Dar (48) and young Qasim Akram, it was pedestrian going for Central Punjab, who were bowled out in 47 overs for a below par total of 239.
Tayyab was the top-scorer with an 88-ball 67 (two sixes) and Qasim struck 50 off 57 balls (two sixes and two fours) before failing to beat Iftikhar Ahmed’s throw and was adjudged run out in the 43rd over.
Slow left-armer Asif, 34, richly deserved his figures of 5-39 in 10 overs while 20-year-old Mohammad Imran, who only made List A debut during this tournament, was impressive once as the left-arm paceman claimed three wickets for 42 runs in eight overs.
The chase seemed more like a stroll in the park for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as for the second day running Farhan reached three figures. After making 132 in the tied second semi-final against Northern, the Pakistan discard played the anchor’s role to perfection as the 24-year-old right-hander from Charsadda contributed an unbeaten 103 with his 102-ball knock decorated with five sixes and as many fours with useful support coming from Aamir Azmat (45 off 28 balls, four fours and three sixes) and Iftikhar (40 off 35). But the honour of finishing the lopsided final went to Adil Amin, who nonchalantly hoisted part-time bowler Rizwan Hussain for a massive six over wide of midwicket. Tayyab’s tournament aggregate of 666 runs fetched him the best batsman prize, while claimed the bowler award for taking 25 wickets and Sindh’s Azam Khan was named best wicket-keeper with 13 dismissals.
The player-of-the-tournament prize was bagged by Northern’s Hammad Azam (433 runs and 13 wickets), but the biggest purse of Rs5 million was received by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa skipper Khalid Usman alongside the trophy with Central Punjab captain Saad Nasim picking up Rs2.5 million and the runners-up trophy.
Tayyab Tahir c Musadiq b Asif 67
Rizwan Hussain c Musadiq b M. Imran 20
Mohammad Akhlaq lbw b Asif 1
Raza Ali Dar c Khalid b Asif 48
Saad Nasim c Wasim b Asif 7
Qasim Akram run out 50
Zafar Gohar lbw b Asif 0
Usman Qadir c Iftikhar b M. Imran 21
Mohammad Ali lbw b Wasim 6
Sohaibullah c Iftikhar b M. Imran 8
Ahmed Bashir not out 5
EXTRAS (B-4, LB-1, W-1) 6
TOTAL (all out, 47 overs) 239
FALL OF WKTS: 1-42 (Rizwan), 2-45 (Akhlaq), 3-128 (Raza), 4-136 (Saad), 5-167 (Tayyab), 6-167 (Zafar), 7-198 (Usman), 8-223 (Qasim), 9-227 (Mohammad Ali), 10-239 (Sohaibullah).
BOWLING: Imran Khan 8-0-35-0; Mohammad Imran 8-0-42-3; Iftikhar Ahmed 5-0-37-0; Asif Afridi 10-0-39-5; Khalid Usman 8-0-46-0; Mohammad Wasim 8-0-35-1 (1w).
Sahibzada Farhan not out 103
Musadiq Ahmed c Rizwan b Usman 33
Aamir Azmat b Zafar 45
Iftikhar Ahmed c Tayyab b Qasim 40
Adil Amin not out 17
EXTRAS (LB-2, W-2, NB-3) 7
TOTAL (for three wkts, 36.1 overs) 245
FALL OF WKTS: 1-69 (Musadiq), 2-135 (Aamir), 3-204 (Iftikhar).
DID NOT BAT: Mohammad Haris, Khalid Usman, Mohammad Wasim, Imran Khan, Mohammad Imran.
BOWLING: Sohaibullah 5-0-31-0 (1nb, 2w); Raza Ali Dar 2-0-13-0; Zafar Gohar 10-1-44-1; Ahmed Bashir 4-0-24-0; Usman Qadir 6-0-62-1; Mohammad Ali 5-0-32-0 (1nb); Qasim Akram 4-0-30-1; Rizwan Hussain 0.1-0-7-0 (1nb).
RESULT: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa won by seven wickets.
UMPIRES: Imtiaz Iqbal and Faisal Afridi.
TV UMPIRE: Zameer Haider.
MATCH REFEREE: Iftikhar Ahmed.
OFFICIAL SCORER: Syed Imran Ali.
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Asif Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).
PLAYER-OF-THE-TOURNAMENT: Hammad Azam (Northern).