KARACHI: Defending champions Balochistan stormed into the Pakistan Cup 2022-23 final when they defeated Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by 38 runs on Sunday to set Monday’s (today) final date with Central Punjab. In a repeat of last year’s final, Balochistan, batting first, recovered to post an imposing 302 for eight in the allotted 50 overs and then dismissed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for 264 in 47.1 overs in front of PCB cameras at the State Bank Sports Complex. No.10 batter Kashif Bhatti belted five fours and four sixes in a 48-ball 69 not out and dominated the 89-run unbroken ninth wicket stand with Yasir Shah (17 not out) to lift Balochistan to 302 for eight after they have slipped to 213 for eight. He then picked up a wicket conceding 43 runs to walk away with the player of the match award. Earlier, Balochistan, put into bat, were in dire straits when they plunged to 138 for six with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa captain Iftikhar Ahmed picking up the scalps of the top three batters – Imran Butt (29), Mohammad Junaid (22) and Haseebullah (20) – to finish with three for 52. At that stage, Bismillah Khan and Amad Butt put on 70 runs for the seventh wicket to take their side to 208 for six. Bismillah scored a 53-ball 65 with six fours and two sixes, while Amad contributed 27 from 21 balls with two fours and two sixes. However, the departure of Bismillah and Amad in a space of five runs, shifted the pressure back on Balochistan before Kashif Bhatti came to the party and not only helped his side post a commanding score but also entertained a decent holiday crowd with his lusty hitting. In their run-chase, three Khyber Pakhtunkhwa batters reached half-centuries but none of them were able to convert these scores into match-winning performances as Balochistan’s Amad Butt returned figures of 8.1-1-52-4 to steal the limelight. No.7 batter Adil Amin top-scored with 76 (67 balls, 6×4, 3×6), followed by Mohammad Haris (63, 54b, 6×4, 1×6) and Sahibzada Farhan (57, 55b, 5×4, 1×6). The highest partnership of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s innings was for the sixth wicket when Adil and Haris put on 72 runs for the sixth wicket after their side had slipped to 127 for five. Brief scores: Balochistan beat Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by 38 runs, State Bank Sports Complex Balochistan 302-8, 50 overs (Kashif Bhatti 69 not out, Bismillah Khan 65, Imran Butt 29, Amad Butt 27; Iftikhar Ahmed 3-52) vs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 264 all out, 47.1 overs (Adil Amin 76, Mohammad Haris 63, Sahibzada Farhan 57; Amad Butt 4-52, Khurram Shahzad 2-38, Mohammad Junaid 2-64) Player of the match – Kashif Bhatti (Balochistan).