Sind denied in spite of Afridi brilliance
Baluchistan Bears 313 for 9 (Anwar jnr 97, Kamran Hussain 45*) beat Sind Dolphins 312 for 6 (Afridi 114, Khurram Manzoor 83) by 1 wicket
It isn't often that Shahid Afridi smacks a brilliantly cavalier 114 and still ends up on the losing side, yet that is what happened to Sind Dolphins as Baluchistan Bears recorded a thrilling and tense last-ball win in Karachi. Leading Sind, Afridi had all but set up a routine win against a Baluchistan side missing captain Misbah-ul-Haq and Mohammad Hafeez. But Kamran Hussein made up for a poor day in the field with a critical, audacious and unbeaten 45 to see his side home with a wicket to spare.
The day had started well for Sind, under a clear sky and cool breeze. Fifties from Khurram Manzoor and the prolific Naumanullah (54 from 76) had set them up nicely. A mild wobble was provided by Danish Kaneria, on return from a finger injury and playing for Baluchistan as a guest player. Kaneria took two middle-order wickets, including Faisal Iqbal, and Sind were suddenly 205 for 4.
Not for the first time in his career - but for the first in some time - Afridi entered and swiftly tilted the balance. Immediately he took the attack to Baluchistan's bowlers, trademark scythes over point hidden among pure slogs over midwicket. Baluchistan were doubly generous and Kaneria unfortunate twofold: on 17 and 31, Afridi was dropped at long-off by Hussain, off Kaneria, both simple offerings.
Convinced it was his day, Afridi motored on and chanced his arm at anything that came his way. Plenty of it connected and with a six off the 46th ball he faced, he brought up his century. All told, when he was dismissed off the final ball, he had cracked a breathless 114 from just 54, 10 fours and seven sixes helping him along the way. In a fifth-wicket partnership of 95, Fawad Alam was barely noticed as Sind marched past the 300 mark.
There seemed no hint of Baluchistan's fight, despite the flatness of the track, and less so when Sohail Khan trapped Shoaib Khan first ball of the innings. It proved a false dawn, however, as Saeed Anwar (jnr) began a calm, calculated response. A stream of steady, eminently sensible middle order support emerged as Baluchistan picked off runs. Saeed Bin Nasir (38) and Khaqan Arsalan (33) ensured that Anwar wasn't alone as Baluchistan kept up with the rate.
But when Anwar fell for an excellent 97 - from 101 balls - and with over a hundred still needed, the match appeared Sind's for the taking. Here came the key partnership, however, as Hussein and Sadaf somehow managed to keep up with the rate. An under-rated allrounder, Hussein had made an impressive but forgotten ODI debut for Pakistan earlier this year though no one particularly remembered his batting.
As Sind's bowlers, particularly Anwar Ali and Tanvir Ahmed floundered, Hussain took advantage, peppering boundaries around the field. More twists were to come as the impressive Sohail returned and immediately bowled Sadaf for an impressive 29-ball 38. Crazy run-outs, crazier bowling from Ali and Hussein's cool head meant that Baluchistan needed 12 off the last over.
Yet as coolly as they had picked off the runs earlier, Hussein and last man Nazar Hussain, chipped away, running hard. Two were needed off the last ball, which Nazar duly chipped to long-off: a slight fumble allowed them to steal home an unthinkable win and leave Afridi, undeservedly, on the losing side.