KEDAH edged closer to the Malaysian Cricket Premier League semi-finals when they notched a third straight win in Group A after routing Terengganu by 10 wickets at the Kinrara Oval yesterday.
Wicketkeeper and opening batsman Shafiq Sharif finally came good after early dismissals in Kedah's two previous wins over Negri Sembilan and Tenaga Nasional when he lashed 11 fours in an unbeaten knock of 77 runs.
Shafiq combined with former Pakistan international Bazid Khan (52 not out) to ensure Kedah overhauled Terengganu's total of 135 all out in 50 overs by scoring 139 runs in 25.3 overs.
Earlier, Imranullah Khangul claimed five wickets for 13 runs to leave Terengganu's batting in tatters as the Pakistani took his tally in the tournament to nine wickets in two matches, having missed the TNB win.
Kedah take a five-week break from competition as their next match against Penang is not until May 20 while sitting pretty at the top of Group A.
"We have had a good start but we are not yet through to the semi-finals," said Kedah captain Ahmad Faiz Mohammed Noor. "We still have Penang and Perak to play but I cannot deny that the opportunity is there to be taken."
Ahmad Faiz also praised Shafiq's contribution yesterday after the batsman turned his game around following disappointing figures of 12 and two runs respectively against Negri and TNB.
"It will help build his confidence for the next two matches. He did well and it was a good response after the disappointment of the last two games.
"Everyone contributed to this win and the bowlers also came through by getting all 10 wickets," said Ahmad Faiz with Kedah having bowled out their opponents in every match so far.
Penang kept their semi-final hopes alive by beating Negri Sembilan by seven wickets at the Penang Sports Club ground in Georgetown for their second win in three matches.
James Thorpe claimed five wickets as Negri were dismissed for 71 runs before Penang cruised to 74 for the loss of three wickets.
RESULTS -- Kedah bt Terengganu by 10 wkts (Terengganu 135 all out in 50 overs, Kedah 139-0 in 25.3 overs); Penang bt Negri Sembilan by 7 wkts (Negri 71 all out, Penang 74-3).
TODAY -- Group A: Tenaga Nasional v Terengganu (Bayuemas Oval, Klang); Group B: Silver State v Armed Forces (Kinrara Oval), Johor v Selangor (Mutiara Rini, Skudai).