Quaid-e-Azam trophy September 29, 2018

Asif rolls back the years as Lahore Whites draw four in four

Mohammad Asif in his delivery stride © AFP

Asif rolls back the years

Remember that snake swing, those in dippers, that cut on the ball either way and that sneering swagger? Remember Mohammad Asif? He is 35 now, playing for WAPDA, and while he lost five years in his career between 2010 and 2015, he has refused to fade away. After missing three rounds of the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam trophy, he returned with a five-wicket haul against Rawalpindi in the first inning to set up a victory. He ended with match-figures of 7 for 71, with Ehsan Adil taking 9 for 100 as WAPDA beat Rawalpindi by 7 wickets.

Since his return to cricket, Asif hasn't really made a serious attempt to play international cricket, but when he has the ball in hand, he can still make a difference. His fitness has been a major hindrance and his desire has unquestionably reduced. But the sheer magic of his past performances mean even though Asif is a shadow of that former self, any excuses for another opportunity to indulge in that nostalgia are wholly embraced.

Hafeez trying hard for his career traction

As Pakistan looked to transition towards youth in the international setup, the experienced Mohammad Hafeez was one who missed out. He was overlooked from the Test and ODI sides amid Pakistan's 2019 World Cup planning. On the eve of Pakistan announcing the Test squad for the series against Australia, Pakistan's selectors named their Test squad for the upcoming Australia two-match Test series, Hafeez smacked a double-hundred against red-hot Peshawar in Faisalabad. His 213 off 327 balls took Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited to 472 after they had skittled Peshawar out for 176. In the second innings, Peshawar were bowled out for 191; Hafeez took three for 41 as SNGPL won by an innings - it was Peshawar's first defeat of the season.

Woe for Lahore

There are three teams that are yet to register a win this year, and two of them are from Lahore. Curiously enough, Lahore Whites are also one of only three sides in the entire competition not to have lost a match. In a tournament often panned for minefields of pitches that see games end inside two days, all four of the Whites' games have ended up as draws. This particular round saw them take on a KRL side in what can only be described as a match specifically designed to turn fans away; three of the four innings ended with the run rate under two per over, and when KRL did have the chance to seize the game in the final innings, they preferred to limp to the safety of a draw. They laboured to 90 for 4 in 55 overs needing 194 to win. There might be times to lament the lack of crowds at the QeA trophy, but this was a day to celebrate that; anyone watching would more likely have been put off by cricket altogether.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

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