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Misbah-ul-Haq played a captain's knock as Faisalabad Wolves defeated Kandurata Maroons by 10 runs in the fifth match of the qualifying stage of the 2013 Champions League Twenty20 at Mohali today. Both the teams had failed to qualify for the main tournament, but Maroons go back to Sri Lanka with the dubious ignominy of losing all their three matches.
Misbah again led from the front as he rescued Wolves for the third consecutive match after the fall of early wickets and his 93 not out helped Faisalabad recover to score 146 for 6 after being asked to bat first.
Maroons suffered an early jolt in their chase when Asad Ali trapped Thilina Kandamby LBW in the second over. Upul Tharanga and Kumar Sangakkara then staged a mini-recovery but their 29-run partnership came at more than a ball as the Wolves' bowlers did the basics well.
Ehsan Adil ended the second wicket partnership when Tharanga (25) hit the ball to Asad Ali at mid-off; and then the same combination were in the thick of it again to send back captain Lahiru Thirimanne, as the Maroons slipped to 55 for 3 in the 10th over. Despite his best efforts, Sangakkara was unable to emulate Misbah's heroics as the required rate continued to climb.
Sangakkara (44 in 36 balls) fell in the 15th over with the score at 83 when Ammar Mahmood caught him at deep fine leg off Imran Khalid's bowling. Sangakkara's dismissal put the Wolves in the driving seat and despite Chamara Silva's dogged knock and Milinda Siriwardana's late pyrotechnics, the target proved to be beyond the Maroons.
Adil (3-26) and Khalid (2-27) were the most successful of the Wolves' bowlers, while Saeed Ajmal finished with 4-0-33-0.
Earlier, Misbah came into the middle with the score at 20 for 2 after Nuwan Kulasekara had Ali Waqas caught behind by Sangakkara for a golden duck in the first over, and the same combination then accounted for Asif Ali in the fourth over. Mahmood, who had two near escapes in the first over, finally saw his luck run out when he hit a short of length LHD Dilhara delivery straight to Upul Tharanga at mid-on.
Misbah, who had scored 46 and 56* in the Wolves' previous two matches, was understandably cautious at the start of his innings, but ensured the scoreboard kept ticking along. But, the Wolves' skipper wasn't afraid to play his shots and hit left-arm spinner Siriwardana for two sixes; the first of which almost cost Misbah his wicket when he was only on 1. Fortunately, for the Wolves and Misbah, the long-off fielder only managed to palm the ball over the boundary rope.
But, just when it appeared the Wolves were putting together a partnership, Ajantha Mendis trapped Khurram Shehzad plumb in front, to leave the Pakistan team struggling at 56 for 4 in the 10th over.
Misbah then finally found an ally in Mohammad Salman (21) and the pair added 74 runs in 8.4 overs for the fifth wicket with the former being the more aggressive batsman as he also took the onus on himself to face most of the deliveries. Misbah was especially harsh on Suraj Randiv (2-0-30-0), as he hit the off-spinner for four boundaries and a six. Misbah reached his 50 from 41 deliveries; but scored 43 runs in the next 19 balls that he faced to give the much-needed impetus to the Wolves' innings. Misbah didn't spare Kulasekara (2-34) either hitting him for two sixes and a boundary, but the bowler recovered well to concede only one run to the batsman from the last three deliveries of the Wolves' innings.
Dilhara (3-21) was the most successful Maroons' bowler, while Lahiru Jayaratne (4-0-13-0) was the most economical. Jayaratne also took a spectacular catch diving backwards near the boundary to end Salman's innings.