Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2014-15, Silver League November 15, 2014

Wolves hunt down 441-run target

ESPNcricinfo staff

Group I

Seamer Ali Imran's second first-class ten-wicket haul was the leading performance in Pakistan International Airlines' four-wicket win against Khan Research Laboratories. After PIA opted to bowl, Ali Imran ran through KRL's top order, picking up the first six wickets, to end up with figures of 6 for 45 as KRL were bowled out for 107 in 39.4 overs.

PIA's response was shaky but a half-century by No.9 Tahir Khan lifted them to 241 and earned them a 134-run lead. Although KRL produced a much better performance - 337 runs - in their second innings, they were still pegged back by Ali Imran, who went on to pick four wickets to complete a ten-for.

Chasing 204, PIA's innings wobbled as they lost their openers with only 17 on the board and were later reduced to 126 for 6, but Sheharyar Ghani and Tahir partnered in a crucial and unbeaten 78-run stand for the seventh wicket to take their team over the line. It was PIA's fifth win in five matches and kept them at the top of the table.

Hyderabad Hawks' Aslam Sattar tripped up Quetta Bears' batsmen with 6 for 44 as they fell short of the target of 177 runs to lose by 21 runs. Bears' Shahbaz Khan scored the only half-century - 61 - of the match during a tight chase but he received no support from the other end. Only two other batsmen registered double-digit scores as Hawks' bowlers kept a lid on scoring while Sattar picked up the wickets.

It was a low-scoring match from the outset. Hawks were put in to bat but could only muster 196 runs. Bears innings suffered a similar fate as none of their batsmen were able to build on the starts to be bowled out for 180. Bears' Nazar Hussain picked up a career-best 9 for 60 in the second innings to dismiss Hawks for 160, but Bears' batsmen followed the same course.

Group II

Abbottabad Falcons fought back from a 146-run first-innings deficit and a poor start to their second innings to ensure a draw against Bahawalpur Stags, but it was the Stags who went away with three points from the game to Falcons' zero. Falcons had been reduced to 36 for 3 and faced an innings defeat but tenacious half-centuries from Waqar Orakzai, who scored 86 during a five-hour stay, and Mohammad Ali. Both batsmen were dismissed by Imranullah Aslam, who went on to collect five wickets, but by then they had taken the team to safety.

Stags had put up a strong performance in their first innings, scoring 529 in response to Falcons' 383. Three of their top four - Imranullah, Faisal Mubashir and Bilal Khilji - smashed centuries while the fourth, Adeel Basit, added 81 which meant that even a late collapse - they lost their last six wickets for 41 - did not stop them from crossing 500. The strong batting performance overhauled a solid one from Falcons, whose innings was led by a century from Orakzai and fifties by Khalilullah and Nasir Khan, but they all were among Ahmed Raza's seven victims in the first innings.

Tabish Khan and Mohammad Waqas played starring roles as Sui Southern Gas Corporations inflicted on Habib Bank a narrow 26-run defeat, their first, in Islamabad. Waqas single-handedly shored up Sui Gas' second innings with a 237-ball 140 that helped them post a 329-run target for Habib Bank. The second-highest score in the innings was 39. Waqas' innings turned out to be crucial as Habib Bank closed in towards the target, with half-centuries from Imran Farhat and Kamran Hussain, but lost their last three wickets on the same score.

Habib Bank, unbeaten before this match, opted to field and restricted Sui Gas to 152, with Fahad Masood and Sarmad Anwar picking up four wickets apiece but their batting suffered a collapse against Tabish to be bowled out for 112. Tabish's 7 for 39 was his 23rd first-class five-for and it helped Sui Gas to an important 40-run lead which proved to be crucial in the end.

Opening batsman Imran Ali's unbeaten 182 helped Faisalabad Wolves hunt down a stiff 441-run target in 106.5 overs to hand Sialkot Stallions their third loss in the tournament this year. What would have made it sweeter for Imran was that it was his maiden first-class century and it helped pull off a win after giving away a lead.

Wolves had been ordinary with the bat in their first innings. They had been bowled out for 154 in response to Stallions' 210. None of their batsmen crossed 25. That first innings deficit of 56 grew to 440 after Stallions' strong batting performance, led by Bilal Hussain's 157, in the second. Stallions had been 62 for 4, but Bilal received good support from the lower middle order as they eyed their first win. But Wolves were even stronger. Imran Ali's century was beefed up with fifties from Waqas Wasif and Raheel Ameer. Faheem Ashraf then joined to score a quick 41 to lead Wolves to their win.

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