Abbas and Nazir help Sialkot retain title
A hurricane half-century from Imran Nazir and a calm hand from Qaiser Abbas helped Sialkot Stallions down Lahore Lions and retain the RBS Twenty20 Cup at the Gadaffi Stadium. It confirmed Sialkot's position as the pre-eminent Twenty20 side in the land, this being their fourth consecutive triumph.
Chasing 151, Nazir slammed the fourth ball of Sialkot's innings over the sightscreen but they lost Kamran Younis two deliveries later. If Lahore thought that would slow Nazir down, they were in for a surprise as he blasted five fours off the next seven deliveries. Abdul Razzaq got his second wicket by removing Tahir Mughal but Nazir continued to go for his shots. He reached his half-century - off 17 deliveries, joint fifth-fastest in Twenty20s - as early as the first ball of the fifth over with a six over long-off.
Sialkot had sprinted to 57 in five overs but the dismissal of Nazir brought some relief for Lahore. Only 36 runs came off the next eight overs, and with Shoaib Malik absent, Lahore sensed a chance. However Abbas made sure there wasn't too much drama, easing Sialkot's nerves by crashing a boundary early in each of the final four overs. The last of those brought up the victory with five balls to spare.
The game was lost by Lahore batsmen, who failed to make the most of a blistering start provided by Imran Farhat. Sialkot's new-ball bowlers have usually done the job for them in this tournament but they were clueless against the onslaught by Farhat, who was nearly as destructive as Nazir during his 27-ball 47, propelling Lahore to 75 after eight overs.
Sialkot's left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman (economy rate 4.80) has been outstanding all week and he was hard to score off in the final as well. He got rid of Farhat in the ninth over to rob Lahore of their momentum, and stifled them further with a maiden in the 17th over. Lahore scrapped their way to 150, but it didn't prove to be a big enough target for the team which had beaten them in the semi-finals last season.