Patrons Trophy, fifth round, 1st day January 2, 2006

Younis Khans' unbeaten 115 powers HBL to 328 for 4

Daily News

Looking to finish on top of the Group A table, Habib Bank batted strongly to reach 328 for 4, on the opening day of their four-day, fifth and final round Patron's Trophy Cricket Championship match against Pakistan Customs at the Karachi on Monday.

Habib Bank's happy position was mainly due to a brilliant unbeaten century by Younis Khan, the captain, and equally splendid batting by almost whoever came to the crease. Shahid Afridi let loose a run-blitz, as he hit 48 off a mere 47 balls with two fours and four sixes in a matter of just over an hour. Younis, 28, reached the 21st century of his first-class career in 91 matches. He was still at the crease at stumps with 115 runs to his name, scored off 180 deliveries in four minutes short of four and a half hours and sent the ball past the ropes 15 times.

Electing to bat after Younis won the toss, Habib Bank were off to a useful start of 61 runs. Imran Farhat, the left-hand opener, contributed a quick 36 off 47 balls with eight fours. Taufeeq Umar, also a left-hander, faced 131 balls while scoring 60 runs that included seven boundaries. Taufeeq's second-wicket stand with his captain produced 71 runs. Younis then went on to add 104 runs for the third-wicket partnership with Hasan Raza. Hasan made 46 runs, off 81 balls in just short of two hours with five fours and a six. Shahid Afridi was the dominant partner in the 81 runs stand for the fourth wicket with Younis. For Customs, Murtaza Hussain, the offspinner, and Jalat Khan, the left-arm spinner, equally shared the four Habib Bank wickets to fall.

The two top teams from either group are looking for qualification to the tournament's Quadrangular Stage round, that gets underway from January 15. Habib Bank, the record seven-time winners of the Patron's Trophy, are currently placed second behind Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). They need a win in this match to stay as one of the two teams in their group. Customs are faced with the real danger of being demoted to next season's non-first-class Patron's Trophy Grade-II circuit. They have collected only six points from their three previous matches and find themselves placed at the bottom of the five-team points table.

A fighting partnership for the sixth wicket lifted top-of-the-table Pakistan International Airlines(PIA) out of the doldrums, on the opening day of their crucial four-day, Group A, fifth and final round Patron's Trophy Cricket Championship match against Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) at Karachi on Monday.

PIA had recovered by the day's close, but their stumps score was a rather modest 226 for 6. At one stage, they were 125 for 5 on the board, following a useful start in the morning. Veteran Mahmood Hamid, fresh from an unbeaten 124 in PIA's innings victory over Pakistan Customs in the previous round, came to his team's rescue after half the side had returned to the pavilion. The 37-year-old got involved in a 98 run partnership for the sixth wicket with Ahmed Zeeshan Malik, the wicketkeeper. Malik made 40 runs off 141 balls in just short of two and three-quarter hours. Mahmood is still at the crease with 56 not out to his name, scored off 127 balls in a little over three hours with five fours. PIA were strengthened by the inclusion of Shoaib Malik, the Pakistan allrounder, who is playing his first match after an operation on his heels. He batted one-down and scored 34 runs off 50 balls with four fours and a six, in a 51-run third-wicket stand with Bazid Khan (28).

PIA have been left fighting to retain their first position in the five-team Group A. The two top teams from either group will qualify for the Patron's Trophy Quadrangular Stage round, that starts from January 15. SNGPL find themselves in an interesting situation. With nine points from their three previous matches, they need to win here to take their tally of 18, something which could even take them into the Quadrangular Stage ahead of PIA. PIA, who have never won the Patron's Trophy but shared the title last season with Habib Bank after the final was rained off; currently have a total of 15 points. They too need an outright win to stay in contention for the next round.

Rain played spoilsport, washing out the entire first day's play between National Bank of Pakistan and Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited

Rain at Sheikhupura washed out the first day's play between Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited and Water and Power Development Authority

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