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The NT20 2021, which has become the most anticipated and celebrated tournament of Pakistan’s domestic circuit lately, kick-started today. Witnessing Northern vs Balochistan and Central Punjab vs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as the double-headers of Day 1, there are several aspects to debate about.
It was more like Shadab Khan vs Imam ul Haq and Babar Azam vs Mohammad Rizwan than Northern vs Balochistan and Central Punjab vs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
What has made these two encounters more thrilling is the induction of the Pakistan T20 World Cup 2021 squad. The initiative has provided the World T20 crew with a practicing forum following New Zealand, England tour cancellations citing ‘unknown security threats.
Kicking off with NOR and KP as the triumphant of Day 1 of their respective extravaganzas, the lookouts have witnessed a pile of ups and downs coming through. Let’s have a look.
Match 1: Balochistan vs Northern:
The toss losers lost the match too. Balochistan encountered considerable blows to their batting line-up while Northern bowlers were in the quick action. Shadab himself might not have been ignited, but his team only conceded a standard target of 140 runs. It was easily meant to be chased with the number of potent batters lined up in the Northern’s squad.
On the other hand, where Balochistan’s Abdul Bangalzai and Akbar ur Rehman’s scores clashed as 24 off 24, adding 48 in the team’s total, Kashif Bhatti contributed with quite a similar range taking 25 balls to do so. However, Amad Butt remained the top scorer, adding 34 off 24 to stabilize the score somehow. The Northern bowlers in action did not let them surpass 139, picking 7 of them and halting below their fans’ expectations.
The lesser they conceded, the easier it became for them to chase. With Shadab and co-stepping on the field to bat, scoring 140 looked more like as easy as pie. They did not only spare 18 balls but saved 6 wickets as well.
Haider and Asif’s Major Contributions
Swift contributions from Haider, and surprisingly from Asif Ali sealed the first contest of Day 1 in Northern’s favor. Haider totaled 58* off 41 after the top two batsmen departed, not giving much thrills to celebrate about.
Whereas, Asif, with whom the watchers may not have bound much of their expectations, was the limelight of today’s showcase. He added 43* off 20 balls coming through 3 fours and 4 sixes. The shattered hopes of the spectators now seem to be reforming from him ahead of the big event, the T20 World Cup 2021.
Balochistan only had a chance to celebrate when Akif Javed, Amad Butt, Yasir Shah, and Kashif Bhatti had one wicket each during Shadab and men batting times. However, this grasping did not make things go hard on the winners.
On the other hand, Mohammad Nawaz and Haris Rauf fumed up with their spin and pace tactics picking 2 wickets for each. Sohail Tanvir and Zaman Khan could snag 1 for each.
Match 2: Central Punjab vs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Rizwan vs Babar’s encounter has much to talk about differentiating two’s leadership, teamwork, and personal accomplishments.
Where Rizwan stole the show with a magnificent 65 off 40 balls, Central Punjab’s Babar had to go for 29 off 22. A similar case could be implied to captains’ respective teams’ batting journeys.
Mohammad Akhlaq of Central Punjab, however, totaled 62 off 35 balls, but it had to go in vain following his team’s mediocre showcase with the ball. As Central Punjab stepped in the field to chase after their choice to bowl first, the rest of the batters could not inflame up to meet Rizwan’s team’s top-notched total.
Rizwan’s Majestic Knock
Rizwan’s chap, Iftikhar Ahmed, contributed with an ignited score off 40* coming off 25 balls. Fakhar, at the opening slot, departed on 26, but Rizwan chose not to use it as an excuse coming off latter failure. This can clearly be seen how black batters set up a massive target for Babar and co.
However, Kamran Akmal’s collapse served as a big blow to Central Punjab. The under-pressure Azam’s chaps, while chasing, fell short of 36 runs as Rizwan’s bowlers sidelined them on 151 with one wicket in hand. Already, 187 did not look like an easy task to tally for.
It was Rizwan’s day. His bowlers came in defense as with the likes of Shaheen Afridi, Arshad Iqbal, Imran Khan, Asif Afridi, and Wasim Jnr, KP added 3, 2, 2, 1, and 1 wicket at the best economies possible sequentially.
After Babar’s defeat coming through a decent margin, the critics compare the leadership of two rivals of the National T20 Cup 2021 2nd contest. Just after the one failure, devotees on social media apparently are pondering if Babar or Rizwan shall be leading Pakistan ahead of the World T20.
Lately, the KP captain has been bragging trophies for his team. What could serve as a better example than NT20 2020 and Pakistan Super League? A pile of other titles for KP in 50, 20 overs formats are worth discussing. On the other, critics also write that Babar is yet to win big in international cricket.
Tell us in the comments below! Northern vs Balochistan or Khyber Pakhtunkhwa vs Central Punjab – Whose performance you have liked the most?
You can see:
National T20 Cup 2021: Complete squads of all six teams