LAHORE: A stunning spell by leg-spinner Saad Masood and blistering knock by English player Luc Martin Benkenstein not only helped Gwadar Sharks record a crushing 77-run victory over Mardan Warriors but also lifted the team to top with eight points at the end of the league stage of the inaugural Pakistan Junior League (PJL) here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Sunday night.
Sharks, mentored by great Sir Vivian Richards, now play Qualifier 1 against second-placed Bahawalpur Royals on Tuesday evening at the same venue. On Wednesday, fourth-placed Warriors take on Rawalpindi Raiders, who are third, in the Eliminator.
Royals, Raiders and Warriors, which made the playoffs, earned six points each and secured second, third and fourth place respectively, on net run-rate.
Saad produced a mesmerizing spell of 2.3 overs, conceding just six runs to bag five wickets to break the back-bone of Warriors who were shot out for 100 in 16.3 overs while chasing 178 for victory.
Their openers Shahzaib Khan (0) and George Thomas (2) were dismissed within the first 14 balls of the innings by pacer Mohammad Ismail.
Warriors then took a long time to consolidate as Burhan Niaz and Haseeb Khan struggled to get the scoreboard moving. Burhan, cut loose in the 10th and 11th over. The Belgian international muscled four sixes in a space of six balls to ignite his side’s hopes of a victory. The right-hander though failed to continue the blitz as he was trapped in front by Aftab Ahmed for 47 (42 balls, two fours, four sixes).
Saad then did not allow any batter to settle dismissing captain Abbas Ali, Daud Nazar, Mohammad Irfan, Archie Lenham and Abidullah in quick succession to register the first ever five-wicket haul of the PJL.
Earlier, Sharks’ skipper Shamyl Hussain (32 off 23; four fours, one six) provided his side a flying start courtesy an 83-run opening stand — in 8.3 overs — with Benkenstein, later named player-of the-match, scoring a magnificent 46-ball 74 not out laced with 10 fours and two sixes..
Left-handed Shamyl was the first to go, caught at long-on while attempting a big shot off leg-spinner Lenham.
Danial Ibrahim was dislodged first ball by Lenham, the right-hander was caught plumb in front of the stumps. Wicket-keeper Mohammad Zulkifal added 30 for the third wicket with Benkenstein before a mix-up caused the latter’s run out.
Sharks were 113-3 in 11 overs at this stage.
Arafat Minhas chipped in with 30 off 26 (four fours, one six) as Sharks posted a huge 177-9 off the stipulated overs.
Warriors’ left-arm-spinner Irfan took three wickets for 29 runs in his four overs.
Gwadar Sharks beat Mardan Warriors by 77 runs.
GWADAR SHARKS 177-9 in 20 overs (Luc Martin Benkenstein 74, Shamyl Hussain 32, Arafat Minhas 30; Mohammad Irfan 3-29, Archie Lenham 2-42); MARDAN WARRIORS 100-9 in 16.3 overs (Burhan Niaz 47, Haseeb Khan 20; Saad Masood 5-6, Mohammad Ismail 2-5, Aftab Ahmed 2-25).
Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2022