Rawalpindi and Sheikhupura maintained their winning streak in the fourth round of the One-day tournament (Associations), winning comprehensively their respective matches in Pool A and Pool B to cruise into the semi-final stage of the competition.
Inspired by a powerful display of batting by Nauman Aman and Naved Ashraf, Rawalpindi thrashed Lahore Whites by an impressive margin of 167 runs in a Pool A match played at National Stadium, Karachi.
Put into bat by the opposition, Rawalpindi posted a commanding 288 for 5 on the board, with Nauman and Naved getting quick-fire fifties. Opening the innings for the winners, Nauman added 68 with Hashim Iqbal on his way to magnificent 78 off 86 ball, which contained 9 fours and two sixes.
Naved Ashraf, batting two down, was even more belligerent in his stroke play, as he hit 5 fours and half a dozen sixes in his 81-ball innings. He was, however, a bit unfortunate to miss a well-deserved century by just one run, despite remaining not out at the end of the innings.
Lahore Whites were expected to put up a valiant fight when their batsmen came out to bat, having won their three previous matches on the trot.
However, they just caved in under pressure to bundle out for paltry 121 in 32.1 overs, with a top score of 24 by Sohail Idrees.
Naeem Akhtar and Najaf Shah bowled superbly for Rawalpindi, getting 3 and 4 wickets each, respectively, for 14 and 35 runs. They were well supported by Naved Ashraf and Iftikhar Mahmood who got one wicket each for 8 and 6.
Sheikhupura's victory over Sargodha, in Pool B, was not as convincing as Rawalpindi's over Lahore Whites, yet it proved adequate to ensure them a place in the semi-finals.
Chasing a modest 202 for victory, Sheikhupura lost wickets at regular intervals. However, it was due to a gritty knock of 102 off only 63 balls by Imran Nazir that helped them earn the eventual honours.
After hammering a magnificent 148 in only the previous match, Imran Nazir, discarded for the tour of England, gave an adequate display of his batting prowess. He hit 15 fours and 3 sixes to lead his side almost single-handedly to victory.
After the departure of Imran at 161 in the 24th over, Mohammad Haroon (32 off 40 balls, 7 fours) and Zubair Watto (15 off 29 balls, 1 four) added 44 for the unconquered 7th wicket to steer their through.