Sialkot edge thriller with Mukhtar's record 123
Mukhtar Ahmed's record-breaking 123 off 67 deliveries, the highest individual score in domestic T20s in Pakistan, helped set up Sialkot Region's thrilling seven-run win over Karachi Region Whites, as the latter narrowly missed out on chasing down a target of 199.
Sialkot, led by Shoaib Malik, opted to bat and got off to a flying start as Ahmed and his opening partner Nauman Anwar added 125 runs in 12.1 overs. After Anwar's dismissal for 51 off 34 deliveries, Ahmed maintained a brisk scoring rate despite little support from the batsmen at the other end - apart from the openers, none of the Sialkot batsmen managed a double-figure score. Ahmed was dismissed off the last ball of the penultimate over, after striking 18 fours and three sixes, and his innings ensured Sialkot finished at a strong 198 for 5.
Karachi Whites responded cautiously and lost three wickets for 45 runs within the first six overs. Opener Ahsan Ali - who scored 76 off 46 balls with seven fours and four sixes - shared an 82-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Saifullah Bangash to keep the chase ticking over. The side, however, struggled to keep pace with the asking rate and went into the final over needing 30 to win. Tariq Haroon smacked two sixes and two fours off the first four deliveries but the side was eventually restricted to 191 for 6. Sultan Ahmed and Bilawal Bhatti were the best bowlers for Sialkot with returns of 3-0-26-2 and 4-0-22-2 respectively.
Put into bat, Multan lost their first three wickets for 32 runs, with openers Imran Farhat and Kamran Akmal falling for 13 and 4 respectively. A 109-run stand between Sohaib Maqsood (77 off 50 balls) and Naved Yasin (55 not out off 31), however, led Multan's strong recovery and took the side close to 150. Kashif Naved's quick 26 off 13 balls helped push the score to 186 for 4.
Hyderabad were unfazed by a formidable target as Sharjeel struck 13 fours and four sixes to give his team a sound start after the early loss of opener Azeem Ghumman. After Sharjeel's dismissal, Faisal Athar (56 off 41 balls) and Lal Kumar (23 off 15 balls) remained unbeaten to take the side home in 18.4 overs.
Three wickets from Mohammad Amir, and half-centuries by Nasir Jamshed and Naved Malik powered Rawalpindi to a comfortable seven-wicket victory against Bahawalpur with 29 balls to spare.
After choosing to bat, Bahawalpur had got to 28 for 0 before they lost three wickets in the space of 12 balls and slumped to 32 for 3 in 6.2 overs. Aamer Ijaz was the only batsman to make it past 20 - scoring 33 off 29 balls - as the rest of his team-mates fell like nine pins. Amir finished with figures of 4-0-23-3 while Hammad Azam took 2 for 22 to restrict Rawalpindi to 125 for 9.
Rawalpindi started poorly by losing Awais Zia off the first ball of the chase but Jamshed made 62 off 36 balls and Malik smashed four sixes in his 51 off 43 deliveries to ensure the target was achieved in the 16th over.
Karachi Region Blues thumped Abbottabad Region by seven wickets in their opening group match of the Haier Mobile T20 Cup.
Karachi Blues' decision to put Abbottabad in to bat proved vital as Mohammad Sami dismissed the openers and reduced the side to 1 for 2 early in the innings. Younis Khan tried to anchor the innings through the wobble and shared a 78-run stand for the third wicket with Sajjad Ali, and the partnership helped Abbottabad reach a competitive total of 153 for 8. Apart from Younis' 34-ball 51, which included five fours and three sixes, Adnan Raees played a cameo of 30 off 23 balls while Sohail Akhtar scored 21 off 13 balls to lift the side towards the end.
Karachi Blues lost opener Khurram Manzoor cheaply but Shahzaib Hasan (36 off 20) and Khalid Latif (65* off 36) shared a 54-run stand to keep the chase on course. Hasan and Asad Shafiq fell in quick succession but Latif and Fawad Alam, who scored 45 off 31 deliveries, took the side to victory with 20 balls to spare.
Riding on a knock of 48 by Ahmed Shehzad and a cameo from Saad Nasim, Lahore Region Whites clinched a thrilling contest against Islamabad Region, acing a 169-run chase with three wickets and a ball to spare.
Shehzad and Azhar Ali provided the side with a powerful start, cracking up a 50-run opening stand within four overs. Lahore lost the pair in quick succession, but Mohammad Hafeez's patient 34 off 29 deliveries provided much-needed steadiness that Nasim later built on. Nasim controlled the chase, bringing the equation down to 11 off the last over with four wickets in hand. He struck successive boundaries in the final over to turn the game in favour of Lahore Whites, finishing unbeaten on 28 off 19 deliveries with two fours and a six.
Earlier, Islamabad made a promising start after opting to bat, the impetus coming from opener Shan Masood's knock of 32 off 19 deliveries. Babar Azam (59 not out off 50) shared two fifty-plus stands - first with Masood and later with Imad Wasim - to help his side to reach a competitive total of 168 for the loss of only three wickets. Shahid Yousuf also struck a handy 30 off 25 as Wahab Raiz and Aizaz Cheema clipped one wicket each.