Butt blitzkrieg powers NBP to semi-finals
As if inspired by Chris Gayle's onslaught in the low-scorer against England on Friday, Salman Butt pulled off a batting masterclass of his own for National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) at the Lahore City Cricket Association Ground. Butt shredded a hapless Lahore Eagles bowling attack with an unbeaten 92 off 25 balls, helping his team chase a rather imposing 123 in just 6.1 overs. His opening partner Nasir Jamshed, who made an unbeaten 26 watched the fun at the other end, as Butt slammed 88 of his runs in boundaries. In less than half and hour, the game was over and NBP stormed into the semi-finals. Lahore were pegged back at 34 for 5 after being asked to bat first and it was their debutant Naeem Arshad who top scored with 27. The seamer Uzair-ul-Haq was the pick of the bowlers with 4 for 27. The innings was wrapped up in 40.3 overs before Butt saw to it that the entire match didn't even last 50.
Butt's onslaught didn't just place NBP in the semi-finals but it also knocked Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) off the perch. Both teams ended with 16 points each but such was the significance of Butt's knock that his team edged ahead on the net run-rate. Neverteless, it was an easy outing for SNGPL in Gujranwala as they comprehensively beat Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) by five wickets. The match headed in one direction after Asad Ali and Samiullah Khan's early burst which reduced WAPDA to 19 for 4. Three top order batsmen failed to open their account and it was left to Ahmed Said (59) and Naved-ul-Hasan to stage a recovery. Asad finished with 4 for 20 while Samiullah took 3 for 33. SNGPL made steady progress to the target with Umar Akmal leading the way with an attacking 69 off 80 balls with five sixes.
A star-studded Habib Bank Limited (HBL) effected a thumping 204-run win against Karachi Zebras at the Gaddafi Stadium. Imran Farhat led the rout with 130 while supporting acts by Younis Khan and Shahid Afridi pushed the score to 333. All three scored at more than a run-a-ball and Farhat was particularly severe, slamming five sixes and nine fours in his 117-ball knock. Big stands of 117 and 112 for the second and third wickets respectively took the game away from Karachi. Seamer Mohammad Iftikhar took four middle-order wickets but it came a little too late as Habib Bank were already in a commanding position at that stage. Akbar-ur-Rehman chipped in with 3 for 67 but he leaked a pricy 8.37 per over. Karachi's response was a shambles at the start of the chase as Fahad Masood's early burst reduced them to 23 for 5. Iftikhar turned in an all-round performance with an attacking 54 off 26 balls in a hopeless cause as Karachi folded for 129 within 28 overs. Masood finished with 4 for 22.