LAHORE: Salman Ali Agha’s sparkling 68 not out off 40 and Aamer Yamin’s blazing 21-ball 41 kept Southern Punjab’s semi-final hopes alive with a four-wicket win over Northern in the National Twenty20 Cup at the Gaddafi Stadium here on Wednesday night. Southern Punjab chased a daunting 212-run target on the penultimate ball to record their first win in seven matches. The pair had come together with 82 required off the last eight overs when Aamer, the Southern Punjab captain, joined Salman after the dismissal of Azam Khan, who smoked three sixes and a four as he blasted 23 off just nine. Southern Punjab’s run chase had gotten off to a desired start as opener Zeeshan Ashraf spanked experienced T20 bowler Sohail Tanvir for two consecutive sixes in the first over. He was sent packing in the next over by Imad Wasim, not before he had smashed the left-arm orthodox for a four. Zeeshan’s opening partner Sohaib Maqsood (23 off 14) and Tayyab Tahir (15 off nine) ensured that they continued to match the required run-rate as Southern Punjab made 57 by the end of the fifth over and finished the powerplay at 60 for three — 15 more than the average score in the first six overs at the venue since 2020. Left-handed Khushdil Shah clubbed two sixes and as many fours in his 16-ball stay at the wicket, which brought him 24. Earlier, Northern had set up an imposing total was because of Haider Ali’s scintillating 72 not out off 40 – his third half-century of the tournament. The 21-year-old blasted seven fours and four towering sixes and his superlative knock left him only six runs behind tournament’s leading run scorer Babar Azam, who has accumulated 286 runs. Despite losing both openers in the powerplay, Northern gathered 52 runs. Their innings, however, was largely anchored by Haider, who knitted electrifying partnerships with Mohammad Nawaz, who brought his 38 runs at a strike rate of 152, and Imad Wasim, who spanked 40 at staggering rate of 222. An eventful powerplay was followed by a four-over lull in which young Southern Punjab spinners — Hassan Khan and Faisal Akram — allowed just 19. Brief scores: Southern Punjab beat Northern by four wickets Northern 211-5, 20 overs (Haider Ali 72 not out, Imad Wasim 40, Mohammad Nawaz 38, Asif Ali 21; Zia-ul-Haq 2-48) VS Southern Punjab 217-6, 19.5 overs (Salman Ali Agha 68 not out, Aamer Yamin 41, Khushdil Shah 24, Azam Khan 23, Sohaib Maqsood 23; Salman Irshad 2-27, Mohammad Nawaz 2-52) Player of the match – Salman Ali Agha (Southern Punjab).