RAWALPINDI: Rawalpindi Rams paid dearly for their overconfident attitude when Karachi Zebras knocked out Sohail Tanvir’s charges on Wednesday by five wickets to seal the remaining quarter-final berth in the Faysal Bank T20 Cup here at the Pindi Cricket Stadium.
Fakhar Zaman, an upcoming opener, played an inspirational innings he carved out a scintillating maiden T20 half century in his fifth appearance at this level. The 23-year-old left-hander turned the game on its head to kill of any chance the Rams had of getting back.
Dominating the opening partnership of 88 in 69 deliveries with Hasan Raza, Fakhar — who usurped his previous best score of 49 — spanked a dozen boundaries and a straight six off spinning all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz on his to 86 from only 63 balls until he was caught at the wicket off Sohail who surprisingly lacked imagination and looked clueless at times as he was two days ago against Multan Tigers.
Hasan, the former Test batsman, provided the free-flowing Fakhar the freedom to go after the bowling with a run-a-ball 22 featuring one boundary.
Skipper Faisal Iqbal got himself got when he swung Sohail down deep square leg’s throat in a bid to finish the game in a hurry.
Sohail and fellow left-arm seamer Nasir Malik picked up two wickets apiece but Sohail’s pre-match comments that the Rams had much more firepower to make the knockout round but it was the Zebras not only had the last laugh but also ensured that Karachi was represented at the business end of the competition after the dramatic exit of much stronger Karachi Dolphins.
Earlier, choosing to bat first, the Rams lost three wickets inside the opening four overs for just 22 runs. It was then left to the experienced left-handed pairing of Umar Amin and Sohail to resurrect the innings in a stand of 61 in 54 deliveries with both getting out in the 30s.
The elegant Umar was the top scorer with 31-ball knock of 37 that was decorated with six boundaries, while Sohail struck three fours in making 34 off 30 balls.
Yasim Murtaza slammed two fours and one six in his unbeaten 27 from 14 deliveries in the closing stages pf the first half of play. A total of 139-8 looked enough at that stage but Fakhar changed it all.
The bowling honours for the Zebras were shared by fast bowler Tabish Khan and leg-spinner Shahzaib Ahmed Khan. Both ended with career-best performances. Tabish grabbed four wickets for 34 runs, including the top three at the start.
Shahzaib, the former Pakistan Under-19 leggie, claimed three for 19 at a critical juncture to give his team with a manageable run chase. Fakhar, though, bagged the Man-of-the-Match prize.
The knockout stage starts from Thursday with the Sialkot Stallions playing Islamabad Leopards and holders Lahore Lions meeting Multan Tigers.
On Friday, Faisalabad Wolves meet surprise packets of the tournament, Larkana Bulls, before the Zebras take on Abbottabad Falcons.