Danish helps Sindh record victory after a nail-biting finish

KARACHI:Facing a daunting task of fifteen runs required off the last three balls but Sindh’s Danish Aziz was undeterred and put a brilliant effort to help his side eventually record a two-wicket win over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the National T20 Cup in Rawalpindi on Tuesday.

Sindh required 19 off the last over when Khyber Pakhtunkhwa captain Mohammad Rizwan handed the ball to Iftikhar Ahmed to bowl right-arm medium fast.

Danish dispatched Iftikhar for a four on the first delivery before the equation reduced to 15 off the last three balls as the second and third ball turned out to be dots.

Danish then struck two towering sixes down the ground with a four on the long-off sandwiched between them.

But the last three-ball cameo was not the only thing Danish did in the match. Chasing a modest 139-run target, Sindh was reduced to 34-6 in eight over with 105 more runs needed for a victory.

The 24-year-old Karachi-born took his team over the line with a six on the last ball after brilliantly anchoring the inning with teammate Anwar Ali.

Speaking about his man-of-the-match performance, Danish said: “It looked a bit difficult when the match came down to the last three balls. I was anticipating fuller deliveries so I decided to hit the ball down the ground.

“My plan was to bat until the end of the innings. When Anwar Ali walked into bat with me, we decided to rotate the strike initially before punishing bad balls.”

Danish spanked eight fours and four sixes and his 47-ball stay at the crease included a match-defining 77-run alliance with Anwar Ali, who made 33 off 32.

The two had come together after Hassan Khan was run out without facing a delivery on the last ball of the eighth over.

Sindh were dealt with an early blow as Shaheen Afridi, the highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 16 scalps at 11.25, accounted for Sharjeel Khan on the second ball.

His new-ball partner Imran Khan dismissed Asad Shafiq and Azam Khan in back-to-back overs – the second and fourth of the innings.

That the match had to be decided on the last ball was because Usman Shinwari who after recording his best score accounted for Khurram Manzoor (13 off 11), Sarfaraz Ahmed (13 off 13) and Sohail Khan (0 off two) as Sindh slipped from 32 for three to 34 for six.

Earlier, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, after being asked to bat, were driven to a respectable total of 138 for nine by Usman who made an unbeaten 15-ball 36 with the help of three sixes and two fours.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were struggling at 87 for seven before Usman stitched a 29-run partnership – the best of the innings – with Shaheen. He followed it up with a 20-run stand with Imran Khan, contributing all 20 runs in it accumulated over just six balls.

Musadiq Ahmed, who batted at seven, was the other notable run-getter with a 14-ball 25 (two fours and two sixes) in an innings in which Sohail, Hassan and Mohammad Hasnain took two wickets apiece.