A whirlwind half-century from Ahmed Shehzad helped Lahore Blues to a thrilling three-run win over Peshawar. Shehzad, who has recently struggled for form in a Pakistan shirt, scored 50 off 22 balls to get his side off to a flying start. Hussain Talat and Mohammad Hafeez scored 37 and 30 respectively as the Blues amassed an intimidating 173 by the halfway mark. It might have been higher but for an excellent spell from fast bowler Waqas Maqsood, who took 3 for 23 in four overs.
Peshawar, in response, hurtled to 81 inside seven overs, thanks to 41-year old Rafatullah Mohmand, who scored 40 off 25 balls. Having pushed ahead of the asking rate, it looked as if they might pull off a spectacular win. Naved Yasin was in the zone as well, finishing unbeaten on 62 off 44. But wickets continued to tumble from the other end as tailenders failed to provide adequate support, and in the end Lahore Blues bowled them out with a ball to spare, and three runs still in the bag.
The day’s second game continued the sequence of exciting matches in this year’s tournament, with Islamabad sneaking home to victory over Islamabad on the final ball of the contest. Mohammad Irfan was the unlikely hero in the end, coming to the crease with his side needing three off the last two balls. A two on the penultimate delivery tied the scores, before Irfan settled it for Islamabad with a single off the last delivery.
Faisalabad had accumulated 170 thanks to a handful of useful contributions, most notably 43 from Sahibzada Farhan. Sohaib Maqsood (38 off 22) and Khurram Shehzad (37 off 17) upped the ante in terms of the scoring rate, while Islamabad’s Adil Amin was a constant thorn in Faisalabad’s side, recording figures of 4-0-27-4.
Saad Ali, who has been by far the leading run scorer in this year’s Quaid-e-Azam trophy, anchored the Islamabad innings with 52, while others including Shan Masood played supporting roles. However, gallant bowling performances from Taj Wali and Pakistan international Yasir Shah brought Faisalabad right back into it, but Irfan ensured Islamabad were able to squeeze out the winning runs in a tense finish.