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  1. 170

Cricket: Naved and Farhat give Lahore the lead

Naved and Farhat give Lahore the leadLahore Badshahs 174 for 6 (Farhat 65) beat Hyderabad Heroes 170 for 5 (Razzaq 69, Maher 45, Naved 3-25) by four wickets

There were some nerves during their chase, but Lahore Badshahs eventually overcame Hyderabad Heroes to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three finals in Ahmedabad.

Having won three of their previous encounters, Hyderabad, the defending champions, had the edge heading into this game, and the pressure seemed to tell on Lahore as the opposition raced to 136 for 1 in 15 overs. However, a splendid effort at the end kept Hyderabad to 170, and Imran Farhat build on Imran Nazir's fiery start to put their team on top. Hyderabad, though, didn't give up. They sneaked back into the contest with four wickets in 2.1 overs. The two Mahmoods, Azhar and Khalid, ensured it was not to end with heartbreak for their team, much to the relief of their mates in the dugout.

Abdul Razzaq, the Player of the Series in Hyderabad's earlier tournament win, was not having a great tournament with the bat, but he stepped up against some of his former Pakistan team-mates on Thursday. He took charge once his replacement as opener, wicketkeeper Ibrahim Khaleel, had pushed Hyderabad to 49 in 5.5 overs. With Jimmy Maher laying down anchor at the other end, the onus on keeping the run-rate high was on Razzaq.

The two picked the singles regularly, and Razzaq found the odd boundary. Lahore played an extra spinner in Arshad Khan, picked over Shahid Nazir, but he went for 43 in his four overs. Razzaq smashed him wide of long-on for a four in his second over, and then did some bodily damage: Arshad tried to get his hand in way of a drive but only injured his bowling hand. Arshad continued after some medical attention, and Razzaq found a six and four in his next over that leaked 14.

At the other end, Saqlain, used to choking runs with timely wickets, wasn't given one till his fourth over - Razzaq even cleared the boundary against him. However, Jimmy Maher wasn't as successful, and was out stumped. Maher scored a run-a-ball 45, and perhaps Lahore were lucky he wasn't dismissed earlier than the 16th over, with the likes of Nicky Boje, Chris Harris, Justin Kemp and Stuart Binny waiting for a hit.

Binny took two fours off Arshad's final over, but Naved-ul-Hasan, who got the ball to reverse, had him caught behind and ran out Ambati Rayudu in his same over. A Razzaq six ensured 11 off the penultimate over but he was dismissed for 69 in the final over, where Naved gave just four.

Lahore conceded just 34 in the final five overs, and after two overs their openers had raced to 28. Razzaq ended Nazir's innings on 26, which came off 10, but Farhat then went after Syed Sahabuddin: Nazir had taken him for 18 in an over, Farhat was content with 12. Pinch-hitter Naved was then sent in. He did not have to take any undue risk, as the brisk start allowed them to motor along with the occasional boundary.

Boje kept Lahore in check with three economical overs, and the wicket of Naved, but whatever pressure created was released as 26 were taken off the first overs from Harris and Binny. Farhat greeted Anirudh Singh with a six, but another shot at maximum cost him his wicket - he had made 65 off 38 by then, and Lahore needed 44 off 40. Inzamam seemed to be keen on finishing it off quickly. The first ball he faced was hit for four but another attempted heave over midwicket saw him bowled by Harris. Mohammad Yousuf was still there, though, and it was a special moment of brilliance that got him out. Yousuf's sweep failed to clear Binny, the short fine-leg fielder, who threw it to his captain as the batsmen attempted the single. Harris, to save precious time, deflected the ball onto the stumps and Hyderabad's hopes were revived.

Those chances were raised further when Shahid Yousuf was lbw in the next over. Hyderabad, though, would rue not having scored more; it was down to a just more than run a ball for the remaining batsmen. Thirteen runs in the penultimate over levelled the scores, and Azhar lofted the first ball of the final over through long-on to put his team one step closer to the title.

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