The Lahore Lions gave themselves a good chance of progressing to the main draw of the Oppo CLT20 2014 after they defeated Southern Express by 55 runs in the fifth qualifying stage match. The result, which improved the Lahore Lions’ net run rate significantly, means the champions of Pakistan’s domestic T20 competition climb up to second in the standings and will go through to the tournament proper if the Northern Knights defeat the Mumbai Indians later in the evening. (Also Read: MATCH REPORT: Q6 - MUMBAI INDIANS V NORTHERN KNIGHTS)
After being put in to bat, the Lahore Lions rode on skipper Mohammad Hafeez’s calculated effort to post 164 for 6. Coming in to bat at 51 for 2, the 33-year old took time to warm up, crawling to 15 from 24 balls, before taking control of proceedings. He singled out leg-spinner Seekkuge Prasanna for punishment and hit him for a boundary and three sixes in an over. When he was dismissed in the final over of the innings, he had scored 67 runs – adding 52 runs in the last 16 deliveries he faced.
Hafeez found an able ally in Saad Nasim who contributed 31 to the 75-run fourth wicket partnership. Nasim was dismissed in the 17th over when he holed out to the man at long on. Umar Siddiq (18), who was promoted to open the innings, and Ahmed Shehzad (29) were the other notable contributors in the Lahore Lions innings; the opening pair saw their team off to a steady start adding 40 runs before being separated in the sixth over.
Courtesy Hafeez’s surge at the end, the Lahore Lions added 75 runs in the final five overs to finish strongly. The 16th over of the innings – bowled by Prasanna – would be the most productive over as 25 runs were added to the scoreboard.
Farveez Maharoof was the most successful bowler for Southern Express picking up three wickets, while Charith Jayampathi and Ishan Jayaratne chipped in with a wicket each.
Southern Express had to get 165 and were faced with the additional pressure of having to get them in just under 13 overs so they could finish above the Mumbai Indians in the table. However, they lost wickets in clusters and never really challenged the Lahore Lions. Aizaz Cheema picked up three wickets in four deliveries to derail the Southern Express chase even before the field restrictions had been relaxed. Skipper Jehan Mubarak and Angelo Perera denied the Lions bowlers briefly adding 44 runs in 6.2 overs. But once Mubarak’s attempted hit over the top landed in the hands of Umar Siddiq, it was only a matter of how long before the rest of the line-up would fold. From 80 for 3 before Mubarak’s dismissal, Southern Express slumped to be bowled out for 109.
All the five Lahore Lions bowlers shared the spoils with Cheema returning the most successful one with three scalps.
Lahore Lions win by 55 runs
Brief Scores: Lahore Lions 164-6 in 20.0 Overs (Ahmed Shehzad 29, Mohammad Hafeez 67, Saad Nasim 31, Farveez Maharoof 3-28) defeated Southern Express 109 in 18.0 Overs (Jehan Mubarak 35, Aizaz Cheema 3-15)
Man of the Match: Mohammad Hafeez, for his 67 and 1-26.
Hafeez: "We all were looking for this win. The boys did a great job. There was some positives. Guys have come in in their first competition and shown what they're capable of. I was struggling to hit the ball early on, but thought to go after it in one over. We've done what we can do, and now we have to just wait."
Mubarak: "Hopefully we'll take something positive back from the tournament. We came in with big expectations, but we're disappointed. We need to go away and work on things. I think lack of experience hurt us. I think our younger players will have learned a lot. This tournament has showed us how hard we need to work at the top level."