Faisalabad and Sialkot in final after thrillers
Faisalabad Wolves 125 for 8 (Shehzad 27, Hafeez 3-30, Rasool 2-27) beat Lahore Lions 123 (Jamshed 46, Hafeez 36, Adil 3-23, Khalid 2-31) by two runs
With nine required of the final over, promising fast bowler Ehsan Adil conceded just six to help Faisalabad Wolves win a thriller against Lahore Lions and reach the final of the Faysal Bank Super Eight T-20 Cup in Lahore.
Though the first ball of Adil's over went four, and the next was a wide that reduced the equation to four off five balls, Adil kept his cool. The second legitimate ball of the over produced a wicket as Sohail Ahmed, who threatened to take the game away, was dismissed after mistiming a pull. Another wide was bowled, followed by two dot balls as the No. 9 Adnan Rasool failed to connect.
That made it three required off two. Rasool missed a third ball in a row, and decided to attempt a bye, but with the non-striker not responding, both batsmen were at the bowler's end when the wicketkeeper broke the stumps. The final ball of the match left No. 11 Aizaz Cheema needing to take three, and he too failed to connect and was run out by the keeper Mohammad Salman, giving Wolves the game.
Wolves didn't seem to have a defendable target after they opted to bat, posting 125. Opener Farrukh Shehzad slashed Aizaz Cheema between gully and point for a boundary, followed by a dashing drive through extra cover, to take nine of the first over as the openers put on 22. Misbah ul-Haq (19) and Khurram Shehzad (27) put on 45 for the third wicket, with the Wolves passing 100 in the 16th over with the help of Imran Khalid's cameo of 20 off 15 balls.
At the halfway stage, Lions were favourites, given Wolves' moderate total, and that Lions had seven cricketers with international experience in their ranks, including the Twenty20 national captain, Mohammad Hafeez.
The Lions announced their charge with three boundaries off the first over from openers Ahmed Shehzad and Nasir Jamshed. Shehzad fell to a brilliant catch behind by Salman with the score on 13. Jamshed (46) and Hafeez (36) put on a solid 57-run partnership, and Lions looked comfortably on course to overhaul the Wolves' total.
A double-strike by Adil in the 11th over brought Wolves back into the game, as he removed Kamran Akmal and Ali Azmat. From being 81 for 2 in 10 overs, Lions ended up losing seven wickets for 38. Once Jamshed was run out by Samiullah with the score on 99, the Wolves' smelt the possibility of victory. Sohail Ahmed's 19 kept the Lions in the hunt, but Adil's superb final over handed Wolves the victory.
Sialkot Stallions 139 for 8 (Malik 44, Amin 3-28) beat Rawalpindi Rams 136 (Waheed 44*, Naved-ul-Hasan 3-20) by three runs
Sialkot Stallions raced into the final after a thrilling victory over Rawalpindi Rams at the Gaddafi Stadium. The match went into the final over with Rawalpindi needing eight runs, but the vastly experienced Naved-ul-Hasan picked up three wickets to bowl Rams out and clinch a three-run victory. Stallions, defending champions of Faysal Bank Super Eights, will take on Faisalabad Wolves in the final on Sunday.
After opting to bat first, Stallions got off to a steady start with the openers adding 23 off 21 before Shakeel Ansar (7) was trapped lbw by Yasir Arafat, followed by the dismissal of Shahid Yousuf (16). In a bid to improvise, Naved-ul-Hasan was promoted up in the order, but the idea backfired and Naved was back in hut with 15 off 22 balls. By the end of 15th over, Stallions were in trouble at 96 for 5.
Their captain Shoaib Malik drove five boundaries to compile 44 off 35 balls to take Stallions past 100 and Mansoor Amjad hit 18 off 11 with the help of a six over long-off to propel Stallions to a respectable total of 139.
Rams, in reply, lost three wickets within five overs with 31 runs on board. It was Umar Amin (24) along with Umar Waheed who kept them the game from slipping away with a defiant 37-run stand. Sohail Tanvir chipped in with three boundaries for his 17 off 16 balls but wasn't enough to keep the chase on course, leaving Waheed (44 not out) to resist all alone in the middle with no batsman providing him support, which left Rams two runs short.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here