Shoaib Malik's unbeaten 88 off 49 balls gave Sialkot a commanding victory over Lahore at the National Stadium in Karachi, and with it a place in the final of the Faysal Bank Twenty20 Cup.
A couple of early wickets meant Sialkot got off to a slow start in their chase of Lahore's 167, but Malik held his nerve and controlled the innings. He and Shahid Yousuf, who scored 49, dragged Sialkot out of the hole they were in after the lost both openers inside the first three overs. Malik was the aggressor in the 127-run partnership and he timed the ball sweetly while hitting nine fours and three sixes. He had to up the run-rate as the innings progressed but did so enough to reach the target in 18.5 overs.
The day had started with Lahore getting everything right. They won the toss on a flat pitch and looked set to get to an imposing target after a flying start. Imran Farhat set the tone, smashing two off the first three balls of the match for four. He and Taufeeq Umar both played classy innings and Lahore's fifty was up in just four overs.
Sialkot looked frazzled in the field as Lahore looked like they were building a huge total. The fightback began in the ninth over when Malik trapped Taufeeq lbw for 33 off 20 balls. Malik then got rid of Farhat for 73 off 44 balls with an arm ball that went through the gate between bat and pad. Lahore's innings crumbled with four run-outs hurting their chances of reaching a winning score. There was some resistance from Ali Azmat, who got 18 off 13, but Lahore could not even bat the whole 20 overs, and their middling total was not enough.
Rawalpindi Rams crushed Peshawar Panthers by 77 runs in the second semi-final at the National Stadium to set up a summit clash against Sialkot Stallions.
Rawalpindi's bowlers ripped through Peshawar's batting order, dismissing them for only 91 in 16 overs. Umar Amin bowled a terrific spell, taking 3 for 14 in four overs, while Hammad Azam picked up 3 for 21. Mohammad Rameez, who took 2 for 41, was the only Rawalpindi bowler to concede more than six runs an over.
Peshawar never got going in the chase. Rafatullah Mohamand's 33 off 26 balls at the top was their best individual score and the five batsmen after him failed to reach double figures, ending the game as a contest.
Rawalpindi also did not have a powerful individual performance from their batsmen but there were several useful contributions, which helped them make 168 before they were dismissed with one ball to go. The top three gave the innings a quick start - Rawalpindi were 65 for 3 in 6.5 overs when Tahir Mughal fell - and 91 at the half-way stage. Amin then contributed 30, the best score, and Sohail Tanvir made 26 off 17 balls to ensure a competitive total.
Zohaib Khan was the best of Peshawar's bowlers, taking 3 for 36, while Nauman Habib and Noor-ul-Amin took two each.