Twenty20 Cup 2005-06 February 27, 2006

Power failure aids Rawalpindi Rams

Cricinfo staff

Pool A

Not rain, not bad weather ... but a power failure at the National Stadium allowed the Rawalpindi Rams to register their first win at the Twenty20 Cup, against Multan Tigers. Two former Pakistan Test openers, Mohammad Waseem and Naved Ashraf ensured the Rams put up at least a defendable total of 165. That total briefly looked insufficient but after the light failure, the target was revised for Multan to 100 off 10 overs and at 75 for five, they ended comfortably short.

Faisalabad Wolves sent out the most emphatic reminder to teams around the country last night that they are back in business with a ruthless performance to brush aside Karachi Zebras, chalk up their second successive win and bring their title defense back on course after a shock opening day loss. Asif Hussain, the stocky dynamo opener - officially the best batsman last year - smashed 84 from 43 balls after his side has been inserted and helped by contributions from Mohammad Salman (35) and Misbah-ul-Haq (38) led his side to an imposing 221. The Zebras were never in the hunt, collapsing to 53 for seven, to the combined swing and pace of Ahmed Hayat and Samiullah Niazi, who took all seven wickets. Although they recovered, it was only to 108 and they were bowled out in 14.4 overs.

Imran Farhat's occasional legspin proved an unlikely saviour for Lahore Eagles in their five-wicket win over the floundering Peshawar Panthers. Farhat picked up the key wickets of Yasir Hameed, Younis Khan and Jannisar Khan to restrict the Panthers to 171. With Wajahatullah Wasti's 17-ball 40 and Hameed's 55, they would have gotten many more, but for Farhat's looping, big-breaking spin. And despite making a first-ball duck himself, Farhat saw team-mates Mohammad Ashfaq and Kamran Sajjad put on a blistering 104 runs to lead them to a comfortable win.

Pool B

With Abdul Razzaq, Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Yousuf in their side, it is only right that Lahore Lions are some people's tips for the title this year; they displayed their credentials by demolishing Quetta Bears by nine wickets for their third successive win, leaving them top of Pool B. And as in their opening day heroics, the name of captain Razzaq was writ large over this win. Having first inserted the Bears, Razzaq picked up two wickets in his four overs, for only seven runs. With solid support from Sarfraz Ahmed, they restricted the Bears to 120. The full inadequacy of the total was revealed by Razzaq himself, as he smote an unvanquished 62 from 44 balls to lead his side home with nearly six overs to spare. As warning shots go, it was resounding.

Last season's runners-up Karachi Dolphins ended Abbotabad Rhinos dream debut season by edging them out by ten runs in an exciting finish. Wicket-keeper Afsar Nawaz starred with bat, gloves...and ball in an unmatched allround performance. It wasn't enough that he first bludgeoned 61, partnering Faisal Iqbal and propelling his side to a defendable total - Riaz Kail, a member of Pakistan's U-19 World Cup winning side, took three wickets with his off-spin. Nawaz then put on his gloves, took a catch and made two stumpings, then took off his gloves and pads and in 1.2 overs (including the last one) took two wickets to end the contest. A more allround performance will be difficult to find.

Bazid Khan fell just ten short of what would have been the first century of the competition this season, helping Islamabad Leopards notch up their first win, beating Hyderabad Hawks by four wickets at Karachi. Opening the innings, Bazid's 90 came off 47 balls with six sixes and seven fours as his side chased the victory target of 181 with two balls to spare. Batting first, the Hawks' batsmen failed to convert their starts and were exposed in their shoddy running between the wickets, resulting in four run-outs. Faisal Athar, their captain, top-scored with 35 until he was trapped leg before by Ashar Zaidi, who conceded just 16 off his four overs, and picked up two wickets.