Saturday Oct 17, 2020
Southern Punjab defeated defending champions Northern by seven wickets in the first semi-final of the National T20 Cup on Saturday and qualified for Sunday's final, thanks first to their leg-spinner Zahid Mahmood's three-for and then opener Zeeshan Malik's devastating knock up top in a successful run-chase.
The Punjab-based side, which had won just once in their first seven matches of the tournament and sat at the bottom of the table for much of the tournament, had qualified for the semi-finals after overcoming the tallest of odds and winning three straight to close the round-robin stages.
Coming into the semi-final, they were the form team whereas Northern, despite being one of the tournament favs, were a bit rusty, having experimented so much on the back of having secure qualification much earlier than others.
Their rustiness and Punjab's form was on full display when the former managed to just 160-5 in a tournament that routinely sees targets of 200-plus.
The man responsible the most for Northern's low score was Southern Punjab leg-spinner Masood, who dismissed three of their first four batsmen, including Zeeshan Malik, Haider Ali and Asif Ali.
The 161-run target was never going to prove enough - especially when SP got a 99-run opening stand from Zeeshan Ashraf and Shan Masood.
By the time Ashraf was dismissed in the 11th over, SP needed a mere 70 from 58 balls. They did so with ease, and thus completed a remarkable turnaround.