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Aimal, Thomas and Uzair star in Pakistan Junior League opener

  • Images from the opening ceremony and first match between Gujranwala Giants and Mardan Warriors available here
  • All six squads available here; For event details and schedule, click here; event hashtags are #Next11 and #PJL

Lahore, 6 October 2022Aimal Khan excelled with the ball and George Thomas impressed with the bat as Mardan Warriors defeated Gujranwala Giants by eight wickets in the opening match of the inaugural Pakistan Junior League in front of PCB cameras at the Gaddafi Stadium on Thursday.  

Fast bowler Aimal returned figures of 4-0-15-3 to restrict Gujranwala Giants to 131 for seven, before Thomas, who represented England in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup New Zealand 2022, struck a 32-ball 50 as Mardan Warriors achieved the target for the loss of two wickets in 16.5 overs.

Thomas, a Somerset 2nd XI opener, and Shahzaib Khan had provided Mardan Warriors a flying 103-run first wicket start before both the batters departed in a space of six balls. Shahzaib was caught by Ariful Islam off Mohammad Shan, while Thomas was trapped in front of the wickets by Mohammad Ibtisam.

Shahzaib’s 39-ball 45 was laced with two sixes and five fours, while Thomas slapped five fours and three towering sixes.

Following the quick dismissals of both the openers, skipper Abbas Ali and Olly Cox ensured there were no further hiccups as they scored the remaining 27 runs without being separated. Abbas was 10 not out, while Cox was 19 not out.

It was a red-letter day for the Pakistan Cricket Board when it became the first country to launch a league for the U19 cricketers, which includes 24 overseas players. Prior to the opening match, an impressive ceremony was held in which all the six sides along with their mentors and coaches participated.

Put into bat, Gujranwala Giants slipped to 29 for three before the end of PowerPlay overs. However, their innings was held together by their captain Uzair Mumtaz who scored a 47-ball 54. His innings included seven fours.

Together with Mohammad Waqas (18), Uzair added 67 runs for the fourth wicket. Later in the order, Hasnain Majid contributed a 12-ball 17, while Thomas Aspinwall, who also played in the New Zealand World Cup for England, scored an eight-ball 10.

Aimal Khan caused the maximum damage and finished with three for 15. He dismissed Sri Lanka’s Shevon Daniel (2), Bangladesh’s Ariful Islam (2) and Uzair Mumtaz.

Abidullah and Mohammad Nabeel picked up two wickets apiece, conceding 24 and 29 runs, respectively.

Scores in brief:

Match 1 – Mardan Warriors beat Gujranwala Giants by eight wickets

Gujranwala Giants 131-7, 20 overs (Uzair Mumtaz 54, Mohammad Waqas 18, Hasnain Majid 17, Aimal Khan 3-15; Abidullah 2-24, Mohammad Nabeel 2-29)

Mardan Warriors 132-2, 16.5 overs (George Thomas 50, Shahzaib Khan 45)

Player of the match – George Thomas (Mardan Warriors)

Friday’s fixture: Bahawalpur Royals v Hyderabad Hunters (6pm)