Sohail fifty leads Sialkot home
Sialkot Stallions 144 for 4 (Sohail 63*, Malik 39) beat Hampshire 143 for 8 (Maxwell 42) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
It was a match of no consequence for either team, but Sialkot Stallions will leave South African shores with greater confidence, having put in an all-round performance against the English domestic champions. Two individual performances from youngsters on either side stood out - Haris Sohail's unbeaten 63 the highlight, as it was a match-winning knock. Glenn Maxwell scored a counter-attacking 42 when his team, Hampshire, needed runs, but a score of 143 wasn't imposing enough for Sialkot.
A combined bowling effort by Sialkot kept Hampshire to that score, well short of what Trinidad and Tobago had managed earlier in the day, with only 31 runs scored in the last five overs. Hampshire lost early wickets in search of quick runs, scratched around for the first ten overs, surged in the middle overs thanks to an entertaining cameo from Maxwell but lost their way after his dismissal. It was a pitch that offered something for the spinners and seamers. Sarfraz Ahmed, the tall left-arm seamer with an unusual action, got a few to bounce off a good length to pose questions for the openers. Shoaib Malik got turn and bounce and those that skidded through weren't easy to put away either.
Hampshire would have ideally liked one from the top order to bat through for the majority of the overs, but regular strikes stalled their progress. The run-outs didn't help - they lost two of their top order off direct hits. Hampshire had only managed 59 off the first ten overs and it was up to their overseas picks to give the innings a push.
Maxwell was harsh on the pull, connecting a few off the seamers and sending the ball several rows over the on side. He picked Naved-ul-Hasan for consecutive sixes in an over which yielded 16, and added 56 with Shahid Afridi. However, Sialkot pulled things back with a quiet over by the seamer Bilawal Bhatti, whose skiddy pace kept Maxwell in check. Hampshire were 113 for 4 after 16 overs and in the search for quick runs, both Maxwell and Afridi fell off successive balls off Umaid Asif. The lower order though failed to push the score past 150.
The Sialkot top order didn't look at ease against the Hampshire seamers, limping to 26 for 2 after the Powerplay. A couple of pressure-relieving boundaries by Sohail off the left-armer Chris Wood put Sialkot on the path to stability. It helped to have the experienced Malik at the other end as they calmly pushed the singles in between. Sialkot were 62 for 3 after ten overs, just three ahead of Hampshire's at the same stage.
Malik showed some aggressive intent, charging the left-arm spinner Liam Dawson and launching him for a six and four off consecutive deliveries. Crucially, Sialkot didn't let themselves get bogged down with a boundary drought - the pair ensured they picked up at least one boundary per over on an average. From the 11th to the start of the 18th over, when they were separated, they picked up ten boundaries. It also hurt Hampshire that their most experienced bowler, Afridi, couldn't effect the breakthroughs or stem the flow of runs. Sohail pounced on anything short and wide from Afridi, and by the time the spinner picked up a wicket - that of Malik - Sialkot were well on course needing 20 off 17. Malik's 96-run association with Sohail had all but sealed the game. It was a pity though that the tournament format didn't allow Sialkot to build on the momentum.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo