Haier Cup National Twenty20 2014 September 27, 2014

Panthers and Lions make way into final

ESPNcricinfo staff

Fast bowler Imran Khan held his nerve in the final over of the match to restrict Sialkot Stallions to just five runs, as Peshawar Panthers won by six runs to make the final.

Chasing 157, Stallions needed 12 off the last over, but Imran's first two deliveries were dot balls. Immediately put on the back foot, Bilawal Bhatti swung around for a big shot, but could only manage a two. Bhatti and Shakeel Ansar exchanged singles with the next two balls, meaning that Bhatti had to hit the last ball for six to tie the game. However, he could only flick a slower ball away to fine leg for another single.

Stallions had done well to recover from a shaky start that saw both Mukhtar Ahmed and Haris Sohail dismissed inside two overs. Shahid Yousuf led a counterattack by striking a 35-ball 56 and adding 80 for the third wicket with Mansoor Amjad. However three quick wickets inside five overs, including that of Yousuf's, hampered Stallions' momentum and the lower-order batsmen could not produce the desired acceleration to guide the team home.

Panthers, having been inserted, had made 156 for 7 from their 20 overs. Their innings was built around crucial knocks from Rafatullah Mohmand (35), Adil Amin (34) and Zohaib Khan (30), which kept the team ticking at more than seven an over. Zohaib later capped off a fine all-round display by picking up two crucial wickets to dent Stallions' chase. With all his bowling partners coming out with expensive figures, seamer Hasan Ali stood out for Stallions and finished with figures of 4-0-21-2.

A four-wicket burst from left-arm pacer Mohammad Aftab meant it will be Lahore Lions who take on Panthers in the final on Sunday. He knocked the top off the Multan Tigers' batting, to put his team on their way to a nine-run win, on the same day the other Lahore Lions team enjoyed success at the Champions League T20.

Aftab claimed four of the top five Tigers' batsmen to reduce them to 35 for 4 in a steep chase of 180. While a couple of partnerships of 40-something followed, the damage done at the top was enough to hold off Tigers. Rizwan Haider with 42 off 25 and Naved Yasin with a more sedate 39 off 31 were the biggest contributors for Tigers.

Fast bowler Mohammad Irfan had jolted Lions in the very first over, earlier on, getting Abid Ali for a duck. However half-centuries from Kamran Akmal and Imam-ul-Haq made sure the innings stayed on track. The pair added 114 in 11 overs, with Akmal top scoring with 77 off 43. His innings included 11 fours and three sixes, and set Lions on their way to 179 for 7, which proved to be enough in the end.

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