Rawalakot Hawks and Bagh Stallions won the 1st Kashmir Premier League (KPL) openers as the league rolled into action Narol Stadium Muzaffarabad on Friday evening.
The inauguration ceremony was graced by President Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Masood Khan and was attended by Chairman Kashmir Committee Shehryar Afridi, Senator Faisal Javed, President KPL Arif Malik, CEO KPL Ch Shehzad Akhtar, players and large number of spectators. Tight security measures were made for the premier league. South African player Herschelle Gibbs was the only foreigner cricketer playing in KPL putting aside Indian pressure for his non-participation in the event.
The inaugural match was played between Rawalakot Hawks and Mirpur Royals and the former emerged as victorious by 43 runs. Mirpur Royals captain Shoaib Malik decided to bowl first after winning the toss. Hawks’ openers, Ahmad Shehzad and Bismillah Khan, welcomed Royals’ bowlers with boundaries in the powerplay as the team reached 54-0 in the first 6 overs. Both openers continued to punish Royal’s bowlers and helped their side post 100/0 in the 9th over.
Ammad Butt came up with the first breakthrough for Royals as young pacer sent Bismillah Khan packing. He scored quick 59 off 34 with 4 fours and 4 sixes. Ahmad Shehzad scored 69 with the help of 4 sixes and 7 fours while Hussain Talat’s 23 and a quick 16-run knock of Shahid Afridi helped Rawalakot Hawks post 194/6 in 20 overs. Ammad Butt claimed 3-20 while young Kashmiri pacer Salman Irshad took 2-38.
Mirpur Royals struggled in the powerplay as two top order youngsters Ibtesam Ul Haq and Mohammad Taha went back to pavilions for golden ducks. Asif Afridi came up with another breakthrough as this time, Mukhtar Ahmad threw his wicket away for just 17 runs, team being 32/3 in the meanwhile. Two quick dismissals of Khushdil Shah and Muhammad Alhaq increased the difficulties of the Royals as Shoaib Malik found his team being 58/5 in the 10th over of the innings.
Mirpur Royals’ skipper tried to keep the chase alive through his superb knock of 77 for 51. When Zaman Khan bowled Ammad Butt on 22 in his second over, Royals required 90 in the last 5 overs. Malik’s boundaries kept the game interesting for a longer period but he couldn’t help his side chase a giant total of 195 as Royals fell short of 43 runs. Zaman Khan, Asif Afridi and Shahid Afridi took two wickets.
The second match of the KPL saw Bagh Stallions defeating Kotli Lions by 5 wickets. Kotli Lions, batting first, scored 169 in 20 overs with Ahsan Ali smashing 51 off 37, Saif Badar 39 off 27 and Asif Ali 39 off 20. For Stallions, Mohammad Imran (3-25), Umaid Asif (3-30) and Aamir Yamin (2-37) bowled brilliantly. Bagh Stallions replied strongly as they chased the target in 19.4 overs for the loss of five wickets. Asad Shafiq was top scorer with unbeaten 43 off 27 while Iftikhar Ahmed hit 29 and Aamir Yamin 27. For Lions, Imran Khan claimed 3-30, Khurram Shahzad 2-37 bowled well.