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Rams clinch Super-Over thriller

Group B

Rawalpindi Rams moved up to the top of Group B after winning the one-over eliminator against Karachi Zebras at the National Stadium. A thrilling game of fluctuating fortunes, which produced nearly 400 runs, three half-centuries and 18 sixes, came to an end with Rams needing 10 from the Super Over.

Zebras left-arm fast bowler Rumman Raees was handed the task of defending those runs, but his decision to open with two full-length deliveries backfired, as Rams opener Awais Zia drove the first ball over gully for four, and tucked the second away to the leg side for two more crucial runs. Zia then cut to third man for a single to give the strike to Yasim Murtaza.

With three needed off three balls, Murtaza defended a full toss away to the leg side for another single. However, Raees' attempt at a run-out missed the stumps and Rams duly obliged by collecting an extra run from the overthrow. Murtaza could not connect with the penultimate ball, but with just one needed, he and Zia ran a bye to complete the victory.

Rams, though, may have felt the match should not even have come down to a Super Over. Defending 195, they had reduced Zebras to 89 for 5 after Hammad Azam (3 for 22) wrecked the hosts' middle order. However, a flurry of big hits from Mohammad Waqas and Sohail Khan brought Zebras back into the game.

The pair added 55 off 22 balls, but with 52 needed from the last five overs, Waqas was crucially dismissed for a 37-ball 73, having whacked four fours and six sixes. His wicket thwarted Zebras' momentum, and eventually brought the equation to 12 off the last over. Facing the seamer Nasir Malik, Sohail and his partner at the other end, Raees, could only scamper around for singles, meaning Zebras needed seven off the last two balls. The penultimate delivery was a dot ball, but Sohail hit the final ball for six to tie the game. Sohail ended with 45 off 27 balls, with one four and four sixes.

Rams, opting to bat, had earlier made 195 for 4 from their 20 overs. Their innings was built around a 107-run partnership for the fourth wicket between Murtaza (64) and Umar Amin (50*), which helped them recover from the early loss of Naved Malik in the second ball of the game. While Murtaza was named Man of the Match, Sohail Tanvir also made a crucial contribution towards his team's win.

Bowling the penultimate over of the game, Tanvir conceded just five runs, making the situation that much more difficult for Zebras. He followed up this incisive bowling even in the Super Over by producing two vital dot balls, which was ultimately the difference between the two sides.

Group A

Sialkot Stallions strolled to their third straight win of the competition, after they thumped Quetta Bears by 44 runs in Karachi.

Having been inserted, the Stallions openers Mukhtar Ahmed (32) and Mansoor Amjad (22) began brightly by racing to 50 in 5.4 overs. Mukhtar and Mansoor fell within three overs of each other, briefly thwarting Stallions' momentum, but Haris Sohail and Ali Khan counterattacked by adding 79 for the fourth wicket from just 39 deliveries.

Ali Khan, whose 19-ball 48 powered Stallions' chase against Larkana Bulls on Friday, blitzed 44 off 23 balls with one four and four sixes. He was dismissed off the last ball of the innings, but Haris remained unbeaten on 52, as Stallions finished with 171 for 4.

Bears never really got going in their chase, and slumped to 84 for 7 inside 14 overs. Zubair Ahmed and Taimur Khan both made starts, but fell in the thirties. Nazar Hussain hit 29 off 25 at No. 9 but by then it was too late and Bears could muster only 127 for 7 from their 20 overs. Mukhtar capped off a fine all-round display by claiming 3 for 16 to win the Man-of-the-Match award.

Karachi Dolphins also maintained their winning start to the season, as their opener Rameez Raja blasted an unbeaten 70 off just 49 deliveries to drive his team to a nine-wicket victory against Hyderabad Hawks. Dolphins and Stallions are now level on top of Group A with six points each, but Dolphins' superior net run-rate means they are rooted firmly in first place.

Hawks, choosing to bat, could not gather any momentum in their innings as they lost wickets right from the off. While several of their middle-order batsmen made starts, none could produce a fifty, as tight bowling from Dolphins restricted Hawks to just 119 for 8. The seamers Anwar Ali and Abdul Ameer both took two wickets and went at under five an over, while Shahid Afridi, Pakistan's new T20 captain, chipped in with the dismissal of Faisal Athar.

Dolphins lost Shahzaib Hasan for 10 in the sixth over, but they were hardly threatened chasing a paltry total. Rameez and Asad Shafiq put up an unbroken stand of 81 from just 67 balls, as Dolphins were home with almost four overs to spare. Rameez slammed 10 fours and a six during his knock, while Shafiq remained unbeaten on 38, with three fours.