Karachi: In the first Semi final, Shoaib Malik led from the front to take Defending Sialkot Stallions into final of the Faysal Bank National Twenty20 Cup 2011 here at the National Stadium on Saturday. He showed great all round abilities by capturing two wickets, taking a catch besides being involved in a run out and later smashed unbeaten 88 runs from 49 balls, cracking three towering sixes and nine fours. Later, he was deservedly declared man-of-the-match.
Chasing 168 runs, the Stallions completed their six-wicket victory with seven balls spared to qualify for playing the final where they will make a bid to win the title for the sixth time. No other batsman, except Shahid Yousuf (49), gave any support to Shoaib in achieving the target. Shoaib and Shahid made 127 runs for the third wicket stand after the Stallions lost both their openers for only nine runs at the board.
Earlier, Lahore Eagles were all out for 167 runs in 19.3 overs after captain Azhar Ali won the toss and decided to bat.
Openers Imran Farhat and Taufiq Umar provided them a solid start of 86 runs but other batsmen could not build up a big score on this foundation as only three batsmen could get into double figures. Imran hit 73 off 44 balls with eleven fours and a six while Taufiq made 33 from 20 balls with six fours. For Sialkot Stallions, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Shoaib Malik claimed two wickets each.
In the second Semi final, Sharp-horned Rawalpindi Rams will match against hard-hoofed Sialkot Stallions today (Sunday) in the Faysal Bank National T20 Cup finals Defending champions Rawalpindi Rams outclassed Peshawar Panthers by 77 runs to reach the final of the Faysal Bank National Twenty20 Cup here in the day-night match at the National Stadium on Saturday.
Chasing 169 runs, Peshawar Panthers were bundled out for a mere total of 91 runs in 16 overs. Except three batsmen – Rafatullah Mohmand (33), Gohar Ali (16) and Nauman Habib (10) – nobody could get into double figures for the Panthers.
Umar Amin and Hammad Azam captured three wickets each for 14 and 21 runs, respectively, while Mohammad Rameez got two wickets. Earlier, Rawalpindi Rams were all out for 168 runs in 19.5 overs after captain Sohail Tanvir won the toss and elected to bat. The main scorers of the Rams were Umar Amin (30), Sohail Tanvir (26), Naved Malik (25) and Babar Naeem (21). Zohaib Khan with three wickets for 36 runs was the most successful bowler for the Panthers while Nauman Habib and Noor-ul-Amin took two wickets each.
In the final to be played today evening, Rawalpindi Rams will fight to defend their title against Sialkot Stallions, the five-time champions, who defeated Lahore Eagles by six wickets in the semi-finals. Rawalpindi Rams gored Peshawar Panthers in the to land in the finals, whereas Sialkot Stallions trampled Lahore Eagles to qualify for the same.
Sports analysts say the battle for the trophy would be bloody and a treat to watch.