Danish Aziz scores half-century to power Sindh to win over Central Punjab

RAWALPINDI, Oct 11 (APP):Former Pakistan U19 batsman Danish Aziz saved Sindh’s blushes with a half-century that also overshadowed Central Punjab’s Babar Azam’s second successive half-century and spirited bowling performance from Waqas Ahmed in the 18th match of the PKR 9million National T20 Cup at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Saturday evening.

Danish clubbed five fours and three sixes in a 32-ball 59 not out as Sindh, chasing 171 for victory and after slipping to 16 for two and then 53 for four, romped to victory with three wickets and five balls to spare.

Danish had walked out to bat after Khurram Manzoor (six), Sharjeel Khan (six), Sarfaraz Ahmed (10) and Asad Shafiq (11) had returned to the hut. He added 44 runs for the fifth wicket with Azam Khan, who dominated the stand with a 23-ball 32.

The 24-year-old then put on 57 crucial runs for the sixth wicket with Hassan Khan (36 off 15 balls, 2×4, 4×6) to bring Sindh within touching distance.

And although Hassan and Anwar Ali departed with nine runs still required, Danish kept his cool as a Waqas Maqsood wide bouncer earned Sindh their second win in six matches and handed Central Punjab their fifth loss in seven matches.

Northern lead the pack with five wins from six matches, followed by Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (four wins a piece in six matches each). Southern Punjab is languishing at the bottom of the six-team table with one win in five matches.

With the top four sides to progress to the semi-finals, Sindh and the two Punjab sides will fight tooth and nail in the upcoming matches to seal places for the 17 October play-offs.

For Central Punjab, fast bowler Waqas Ahmed, who replaced an injured Naseem Shah, returned impressive figures of 3.1-0-14-3, while Zafar Gohar took two for 28 and Ehsan Adil bagged two for 45.

Earlier, Sindh displayed greasy palms but also showed glimpses of brilliance in the field and executed excellent death over bowling to restrict Central Punjab to 170 for six after sending them into bat.

Sindh showed special generosity towards Babar Azam by dropping him twice in the first 13 balls that allowed the local cricket fans to enjoy the world’s second-ranked batsman’s classy 86 on PTV Sports and overseas followers on delayed live-stream on the PCB YouTube Channel.

Babar slapped nine four and three sixes in a 53-ball 86, his second successive half-century since joining the squad for the Rawalpindi-leg matches.

While Sindh conceded runs in the field and dropped catches, two acts of brilliance also kept them in the hunt to keep Central Punjab to an achievable score. Asad Shafiq brought off a one-handed stunner to dismiss Abdullah Shafiq (16) and a couple of balls later Anwar Ali ran-out Faheem Ashraf.

Sindh bowlers, led by Sohail Khan, Mohammad Hasnain and Anwar, were on the mark and allowed Central Punjab to score 84 runs in the last 10 overs, including 44 runs off the last 30 balls.

Sohail Khan was the pick of the bowlers with three for 24, while Mohammad Hasnain and Anwar Ali took a wicket each conceding 26 and 27 runs, respectively.

Scores in brief:

Sindh defeat Central Punjab by three wickets

Central Punjab 170-6, 20 overs (Babar Azam 86, Rizwan Hussain 23; Sohail Khan 3-24)

Sindh 171-7, 19.1 overs (Danish Aziz 59 not out, Hassan Khan 36, Azam Khan 32; Waqas Maqsood 3-14, Zafar Gohar 2-28, Ehsan Adil 2-45)

Player of the match – Danish Aziz (Sindh).