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March 19, 2012
Shoaib Malik's all-round performance inspired Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to a four-wicket victory against Islamabad at the Gaddafi Stadium, earning them a place in the final of the One-day National Cup.
Islamabad were put in to bat and reached 212 thanks mainly to a 116-run fifth-wicket stand between Zohail Ahmed, who scored 68 not out, and Faizan Riaz, who made 58. None of the other batsmen made a significant contribution, allowing PIA to keep Islamabad down to a chaseable total. Malik conceded 50 runs in his 10 overs, but took four wickets. He broke the stand between Ahmed and Riaz, and took two more quick wickets to leave Islamabad in a situation from which it was hard to accelerate.
The chase went down to the final over, with Shoaib Khan remaining unbeaten on 58 to ensure PIA won with four balls to spare. Malik had set up the chase, with his 60, but the runs came at a strike-rate of 68.18, and PIA needed someone to lift the rate at the death. Shoaib Khan was that man, his 58 coming off 65 balls and featuring four boundaries and a six.
Imran Farhat and Taufeeq Umar scored centuries to set up a big win against Sialkot Stallions at the Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad, and book Habib Bank Limited's spot in the final. Farhat and Taufeeq shared a 220-run opening stand that deflated Sialkot and got HBL to an imposing 334 for 6. Taufeeq focused on accumulation, getting just 28 runs in boundaries out of his 100 but still managing to strike at 88.49. Farhat was more aggressive, striking four sixes and 13 fours in his 125 off 107 balls. The pair vindicated their captain's decision to bat, and quick runs from the middle order, including a 23-ball 38 from Humayun Farhat, ensured HBL had a winning score.
Sialkot did not put up much of a fight in their chase. Mohammad Yasin got 41 at the top of the order and Shehzad Malik scored a slow 44 in the middle, and there was never any real hope of them getting close. They were eventually bowled out for 180 in 42.1 overs, with legspinner Danish Kaneria helping himself to four wickets and offspinner Aftab Alam taking 3 for 31.
HBL will meet PIA in the final at the Gaddafi Stadium on March 21.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Would he have fared better than the incumbent middle-order batsmen, Root and Ballance?