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December 20, 2008
NWFP Panthers 156 for 4 (Mohmand 75*, Iqbal 83, Hussain 3-59) beat Baluchistan Bears 152 (Bin Nasir 37, Gul 3-24, Aslam 3-30) by six wickets
Three wickets from Umar Gul and a comfortable fifty from Rafatullah Mohmand eased NWFP to an easy six-wicket win over Baluchistan Bears at the National Stadium in Karachi. Their first win also kept alive their hopes of reaching the final, to be played against the Punjab Stallions. If Sind lose to Punjab tomorrow and NWFP can get past the Federal Areas the day after, they will face Punjab in the final on December 24.
Unseasonal rains over the last two days had forced the abandonment of one game and weather conditions in the port city meant Gul had an easy decision to make on winning the toss: field first. This he duly did and then played a huge role himself in dismantling Baluchistan.
Under partially overcast skies, as the ball nipped around. Gul and Samiullah Khan Niazi both put together an exemplary opening, stifling Baluchistan's start and sending back both openers. That settled the tone for the innings. Baluchistan could only scrape together runs, against a committed seam attack.
When they did fight back, through the in-form Saeed Bin Nasir and captain Misbah-ul-Haq, left-arm spinner Mohammad Aslam Qureshi popped in for a tight spell. He dismissed both in swift succession, leaving Gul to do one of the things he does best: mop up the tail.
The target of 153 was barely a challenge, less so as the sun came out. Yasir Hameed helped Mohmand along against an unthreatening attack. There was time enough for Mohmand - once close to Pakistan selection when Inzamam-ul-Haq was captain - to unveil a few strokes and his unbeaten 75 led them home with 98 balls remaining. It also kept their hopes alive for another day.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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