Multan reach semi-finals with perfect record
A five-wicket win over Abbottabad Rhinos in Karachi helped Multan Tigers maintain their perfect record and ease into the semi-finals. Abbottabad posted a competitive 239 and had Multan in a spot of bother at 86 for 4 during their run-chase, but Kashif Naved and Mohammad Hafeez - who also starred with the ball - were involved in a match-winning partnership of 107 for the fifth wicket. Both scored at above a run-a-ball, and were especially harsh on left-arm spinner Khalid Usman who conceded 68 in 9.1 overs. Khalid Usman broke the stand, having Naved stumped for 79, but Hafeez helped complete the formalities, adding 48 in quick time with Rizwan Haider to see his team through with almost six overs to spare.
Hafeez was largely responsible in keeping Abbottabad down to a chaseable score, taking 4 for 47 in an impressive bowling effort from Multan, who struck at frequent intervals to prevent the opposition from dominating at any stage. Abbottabad were struggling at 85 for 4 but an 89-run stand between Hammad Ali and half-centurion Usman Khan did threaten to seize the initiative. However, Abbottabad lost five wickets for 65, including Usman Khan, who was run out, to undermine the recovery.
Karachi Dolphins, at the start of their match against Hyderabad Hawks, would have been hoping for a loss for Multan Tigers, their main competitors in Group A, but were to be disappointed. Though they managed to beat Hyderabad convincingly, by 66 runs at the Niaz Stadium, they have to reconcile themselves to second place. Their openers Ali Asad and captain Khalid Latif - who made exactly 100 - set the stage for a massive score of 341, adding 174. Though there was a slight hiccup in the latter half of their innings - they lost four wickets for 33 - a quickfire 41 off 21 balls from Tariq Haroon helped them set Hyderabad an intimidating target.
Hyderabad's chances became bleaker still after losing their first three wickets for 79 but put up a good fight, courtesy opener Aqeel Anjum (62) and middle-order batsman Noor Mohammad (68), who added 98 for the fourth wicket. However, medium-pacers Haroon and Faraz Ahmed took six wickets between them to ensure there was little resistance.
Quetta Bears slid to a fifth consecutive defeat as Rawalpindi Rams completed a clinical 203-run rout at the National Stadium to grab the third place. After posting a formidable 301, it took Rawalpindi just 20.5 overs to wrap up the proceedings as the Quetta batsmen capitulated to the pace of Rashid Latif and Mohammad Ayaz who took nine wickets between them. Both achieved career-best figures - Rashid took 5 for 30 - and had their opponents struggling from the outset. The first three wickets fell for nine runs and the rest of the batting line-up offered little resistance - Mohammad Aslam was Quetta's top-scorer with 27 - with only three batsmen reaching double-digits. The innings finally folded for 98, marking a disappointing end to Quetta's campaign in the tournament.
The foundation for this humiliating defeat was laid by a collective batting display by Rawalpindi. The highest score in their innings was 55 by opener Babar Naeem, but unlike Quetta, the others chipped in with valuable contributions and consistently built partnerships. Each of the first eight batsmen managed to get to double-figures, including four forty-plus scores.