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December 1, 2017



Lahore Blues crowned T20 champions

KARACHI: Imam-ul-Haq hit an unbeaten fifty while pacer Atif Jabbar bowled impressively as Lahore Blues were crowned champions when they overwhelmed Lahore Whites by seven wickets in the day-night final of the National T20 Cup 2017-18 at the Pindi Stadium, Rawalpindi, on Thursday.
Sheikhupura-born right-armer Atif picked 2-24 in four overs to restrict Lahore Whites to 127-5 on a wicket which produced some bounce. In response, left-handed international Imam struck 59 not out to enable Lahore Blues to chase the target in the 18th over after losing only three wickets.
Opting to bat first, Lahore Whites lost Test stumper Kamran Akmal (20), who was bowled by left-arm spinner Khalid Usman (1-28). Kamran, who had hit four fifties and a record unbeaten 150 in the event, struck one four and two sixes in his 14-ball innings.
After his fall, Lahore Whites kept losing wickets at regular intervals and at one stage they were 66-4 in the tenth over. Skipper Salman Butt (62*) and international all-rounder Aamer Yamin (15) added 47 off 42 balls for the fifth wicket.
Salman, who before this game had hit three fifties, played too many dot balls, losing the chance to stage a fighting total. Salman smacked eight fours in his 59-ball unbeaten effort. Yamin hit one six in his 16-ball knock.
Atif broke the back of Lahore Whites by removing Asif Zakir (9) and Umar Akmal (5) in his two successive overs to put Lahore Blues in a commanding position.Agha Salman (1-13) and Test discard Aizaz Cheema (1-26) also bowled well.
In response, Imam-ul-Haq, nephew of chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq, did a glorious job with the bat to enable Lahore Blues to reach the target with 15 balls to spare. Imam, who smashed seven fours and one six in his 49-ball unfinished knock, scored 43 for the opening stand with Ahmed Shehzad (22), who smacked three fours and one six. Imam added 76 runs for the second wicket with skipper Mohammad Hafeez, who hit 35-ball 33 with three fours and one six to

take their side very close to victory. After losing Hussain Talat (1) soon after the fall of Hafeez, Imam finished the job by hitting off-spinner Bilal Asif for a glorious four.
Asif Ali (1-23), Umaid Asif (1-24) and Bilal Asif (1-27) were the successful bowlers.
The match was interrupted near the end when some spectators threw placards in the ground.
Lahore Blues’ skipper Hafeez credited all his boys for the win. “It was completely a team effort. Before the final I told the boys that they are the real champions as the way we made comebacks throughout the competition was fantastic,” Hafeez said.
Lahore Whites’ captain Salman Butt said that the better team won the final. “I think the better team won it,” Salman said. The former Pakistan captain said that excellent wickets had been prepared and it was an outstanding event.
This was the fourth time that a Lahore team won the T20 event since its inception in 2004-05.Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal was the chief guest at the closing ceremony. Lahore Blues received Rs2 million and a glittering trophy, while Lahore Whites went away with the runners-up trophy and a cheque of Rs1 million.
Besides, Rs50,000 each was handed over to Kamran Akmal (Lahore Whites, best batsman, 432 runs), Umaid Asif (Lahore Whites, best bowler, 14 wickets), Imam-ul-Haq (Lahore Blues, man of the final) and Hammad Azam (FATA, best all-rounder, 157 runs, 5 wickets).
Asif Yaqoob and Mohammad Sajid supervised the match, while Shozab Reza served as the television umpire and Ahmed Shahab the reserve umpire. Nadeem Arshad was the match referee.