Lions enter last-four as Zebras win last-ball thriller

Fast-rising Rameez Aziz and seasoned Hasan Raza struck delightful fifties on Tuesday to help Karachi Zebras’ clinch a six-wicket victory in a last-ball thriller against Abbottabad Falcons, while Lahore Eagles became the first team to qualify for the semifinals of Faysal Bank T20 tournament at the National Stadium here on Tuesday.

Chasing a target of 159, Zebras were in trouble at 4-28 in 4.4 overs. However, Rameez and Hasan took centre-stage in their quest to achieve what seemed like a gigantic task at that stage. Both players were finding it hard to keep up with the required rate until 10 overs were completed.

Experts wrote off Zebras’ at that stage and were questioning the competence of talented left-hander Rameez. Zebras needed 103 runs off the last 10 overs when they stepped up on the gas with some wonderful strokes, finding the gaps with perfection.

The duo completed their fifties and Hasan raised the bat towards the dug-out apparently trying to make a point that he still has what it takes to be a match-winner. It has been learnt that Hasan and the team management have not be getting along well after Zebras lost to Eagles in their first group match.

In the end it all came down to the last ball when three runs were needed and Rameez was on strike. Junaid Khan ran in but lost his run-up and went back to bowl again, which was a clear sign of nerves.

He ran in again and Rameez adjusted himself for a scoop at the fine-leg region, however, when he saw the ball was on the off stump, he adjusted his bat to guide it to third-man boundary for a four.

Hasan remained unbeaten on 74 with the help of 11 fours, while Rameez, who represented Pakistan in the last U19 World Cup was unbeaten on 67 that included 10 strikes to the rope. They shared an unbeaten 132-run stand for the fourth-wicket. Zebras ended up with two wins from their three group matches and will have to settle with qualification in the next Super-Eights T20 tourney.

Earlier, Falcons posted a total of 158-7 in 20 overs. Test opener Yasir Hameed continued his excellent form with a fine 73, while Younis Khan made 42.

Zebras’ skipper Danish Kaneria took three wickets to end up with another good outing in the event.

In the first match of the day, Eagles thumped Quetta Bears with a nine-wicket win.

Batting first, Bears were all out for 125 in 20 overs. Mir Wais made 30, while Saeed Khan played a 26-run cameo. Leg-spinner Saad Naseem and Junaid Zia bagged two scalps each.

In reply, openers Imran Farhat and Taufeeq Umar struck fifties to guide them to an easy sailing.

On Tuesday night, Eagles won a thriller against Falcons thanks to superb bowling and fielding as they registered a 15-run win.

The two Lahore outfits could possibly collide, as Eagles will play the winner of Sialkot Stallions and Lahore Lions.

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