Sharjeel century knocks out Southern Punjab; Northern seal last-over victory

Ahmed Shehzad's 77 off 45 balls went in vain as Central Punjab fell short in the end

Karachi Kings' Sharjeel Khan celebrates after scoring a century, Karachi, February 24, 2021

File photo: Sharjeel Khan's century carried Sindh to a strong total  •  AFP via Getty Images

Sindh 196 for 7 (Sharjeel 101, Imran 2-32) beat Southern Punjab 151 (Tahir 32, Raees 3-23) by 45 runs
Sharjeel Khan hammered a sensational 54-ball century and the Sindh bowlers defended a daunting total of 196 empathically to knock Southern Punjab out with a 45-run victory. SP continue to sit at the bottom of the table while Sindh remain on top with 10 points, ensuring a top four finish.
Opting to bowl, SP removed opener Ahsan Ali in the opening over before Shan Masood (22 off 15) and Sharjeel batted carefully for next two overs. The duo, however, didn't take much time to find their feet, smacking 19 in Naseem Shah's second over to propel the innings. Saud Shakeel (26 off 19) shared a 56-run stand with Sharjeel, who hit 13 fours and four sixes to complete his fourth T20 hundred.
Sindh were looking for a 200-plus total when they went into the final over with a solid footing at 189 for 4 but they stumbled and added only seven runs losing three wickets.
SP lost Zeeshan Ashraf early before Tayyab Tahir's 32 off 23 did some repair work, but not for too long. Azam Khan - who lost his place in the World Cup squad - failed to make an impression and edged back to Sarfaraz Ahmed for 2 off four balls. Mohammad Imran (29 off 20) and Aamer Yamin (27 off 18) tried to pull the game back but regular wickets meant SP never came close to the required run rate and were wrapped up for 151 in 18.5 overs. They are effectively are out of the semi-final race now, losing seven games out of nine, and with only one match remaining.
Northern 195 for 5 (Imran 55, Haider 37, Qasim 2-15) beat Central Punjab194 for 5 (Shehzad 77, Akhlaq 61, Jamal 3-38) by five wickets
Northern stunned Central Punjab with a sensational chase of 195, sealing a five-wicket victory, which seemed an unlikely prospect for much of the innings, with three balls to spare.
Central Punjab were put in to bat, and the small crowd was treated to a feast of good hitting by Ahmed Shehzad, who rolled back the years to get his side off to a flying start. Muhammad Akhlaq at the other end kept Shehzad stellar company, and inside 12 overs, the openers had taken CP to 124.
However, once Aamer Jamal cleaned up Shehzad, the batters that followed struggled to keep up the scoring rate, and Northern gradually began to get a grip on the match. Jamal removed Faheem Ashraf and Shoaib Malik early too, and an innings that at one stage looked like comfortably clearing 200 ended at 194.
A 92-run second-wicket partnership between Ali Imran and Haider Ali - freshly called up for the T20 World Cup - saw Northern keep the asking rate hovering around ten runs an over, but three wickets for 23 runs saw them fall behind in the game.
It looked as if CP were slowly assuming control of the game, but a stunning onslaught from Rohail Nazir and Jamal kept the game alive. In the end, the pair added 50 in 25 balls, and once Wahab Riaz was taken for 20 in the penultimate over, a couple of boundaries at the expense of Faheem in the final over sealed the win for Northern.