Misbah delivers consolation win for Wolves

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In an age where limited-overs specialists are highly sought after, Misbah-ul-Haq once again underlined the value of an all-round cricketer as his superb innings of 93 not out coupled with a disciplined display by his bowlers ensured the Faisalabad Wolves rounded off their CLT20 qualifying campaign with a 10-run victory over Kandurata Maroons in Mohali.

In an age where limited-overs specialists are highly sought after, Misbah-ul-Haq once again underlined the value of an all-round cricketer as his superb innings of 93 not out coupled with a disciplined display by his bowlers ensured the Faisalabad Wolves rounded off their CLT20 qualifying campaign with a 10-run victory over Kandurata Maroons in Mohali.

The 39-year-old captain once again held the innings together as he smashed eleven boundaries including five maximums during his 60-ball innings before Eshan Adil took 3/25 to give the Wolves their maiden Champions League win.

Kumar Sangakkara and Upul Tharanga briefly threatened to take the game away from the Wolves as they looked set to knock off the 147 runs required for victory with relative ease despite the early loss of Kandamby, who was trapped lbw by the impressive Eshan.

Tharanga's departure for a watchful 25 sparked life into the Wolves as they put the brakes on their opponents progress and took a strangle-hold of the game.

While Saeed Ajmal's four overs went wicketless, the pressure the spinner applied at one end allowed Imran Khalid to pick up the wickets of Sangakkara (44) and Chamara Silva (25), to all but end the Maroons' hopes of a consolation victory.

As the required rate rose hastily, the Sri Lankan side failed to keep up and as their desperation increased, as did the amount of dot balls as Eshan returned to pick up another wicket and ensure the spoils went to the Wolves.

Earlier, Lahiru Thirimanne decided to bowl first in the dead rubber at the PCA Stadium, citing the fact that the chasing team has won all four qualification matches thus far for his decision.

In an attempt to strike a winning formula, Kandurata made two changes and were soon on top thanks to a couple of quick wickets by strike bowler Nuwan Kulasekara.

However, Misbah once again proved to be the only shining light with the bat for the Pakistani debutants, who's hopes of progressing to the lucrative group stages were extinguished after just two games.

In circumstances not too dissimilar to the defeats to the Otago Volts and Hyderabad Sunrisers, the veteran batsman was helpless as he watched wickets tumble at the other end but played an aggressive but also measured innings to underline his ability to adapt to all formats.

With Kulasekara accounting for the top-order, Misbah found an able ally in Mohammad Salman (21) as the pair put on 74 runs for the fifth wicket after Maroons captain Lahiru Thirimanne opted to field first in the dead-rubber encounter.

Just as the Wolves were beginning to build-up some momentum, Dilhara Lokuhettige took two quick wickets after Misbah had brought up his half-century in 41 deliveries. It was his seventh fifty in 10 innings across all formats and second consecutive one in the tournament.

Despite the departure of Salman at the other end, Misbah smashed a six and three consecutive boundaries off Suraj Randiv in the 16th over before scoring sixteen runs off Kulasekara's final over, propelling his side to a competitive total of 146/6, which proved to be just enough.

<b>Ryan Bailey</b>

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