Patrons Trophy, fifth round, 4th day

Asif stars as National Bank move to next round

Daily News

January 6, 2006

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Thanks to Mohammad Asif, the Pakistani fast bowler, National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) qualified for the tournament's Quadrangular Stage round as they beat Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) by 100 runs on the final day of their Patron's Trophy match at the Arbab Niaz Stadium at Peshawar yesterday. It could be said that the result was contrived as both sides decided to forfeit their first innings and the match was reduced to a single-innings affair. There had been no play at all on the first three days due to heavy recent rains in the city and then because of the unplayable condition of the ground.

On the fourth and final day yesterday, Rao Iftikhar , the ZTBL captain, won the toss and put NBP in, who went on a run blitz, hammering 268 for 9 in a mere 40 overs. ZTBL were bowled out for a poor 168 in reply.

Budding youngster Shahid Yousuf, formerly on the ZTBL rolls, hit 10 fours and a six as he took a mere 85 balls for his 99 in seven minutes short of two hours. Yousuf, 19, was unlucky to miss out on what would have been only his third century in first-class cricket. With Faisal Athar, who hit 45 off 62 balls with five fours, Shahid's third-wicket stand was worth 117. The fact that Bilal Asad, the fast bowler, took 5 for 64 in 11 overs became secondary in the face of a run-glut.

From there onwards, it was Mohammad Asif's show. In 11 overs, the young batsman from Sheikhupura captured 5 for 70, with great help from Mohammad Sami (2 for 46) and Mansoor Amjad (2 for 30). The only bright spot in the ZTBL innings was a 61-run seventh-wicket stand between Naved Ashraf, who scored 66 off 54 balls with seven fours and three sixes, and Bilal Asad, who hit 35 runs off 37 deliveries with six fours and a six.

The match, originally scheduled to be played at the Lahore City Cricket Asociation Ground, was shifted because of the poor conditions there mainly due to heavy fog and poor visibility. In Peshawar, there was no play possible on the first three days. NBP, five-time winners of the tournament, have now moved to the Quadrangular Stage round. Four-time champions ZTBL were content to finish at fourth place in the five-team Group B table. Service Industries, after having gained no points from their four matches of which they lost three and drew one, had already suffered demotion to the non-first-class Patron's Trophy Grade-II circuit. Ironically, they had qualified for the ongoing tournament after having won the last season's Grade-II championship.

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) retained their top position in Group A, as their final-round Patron's Trophy Cricket Championship match against Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) ended in a draw on the final day at the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Sports Complex at Karachi. For this drawn result Faisal Iqbal, PIA's captain, had to play a determined and grim match-saving knock of 80 not out as his team reached 196 for 7 in their second innings after having had to bat out the entire day yesterday.

Earlier on Wednesday, PIA had gained the crucial first-innings lead against SNGPL which was significant, even if it amounted to just 8. They then lost two quick wickets before the close of play on the third day.

With Samiullah Niazi, the left-arm fast bowler, bowling at his best PIA were tottering at 54 for 5 early yesterday. Faisal was helped by the in-form Mahmood Hamid, with back-to-back unbeaten centuries in his last two innings, in a sixth-wicket stand of 38. However, PIA's seventh wicket fell with the score at 130. Faisal and Tahir Khan, who followed up his first-innings 47 with an unbeaten 29, then took their team to the safety of stumps by batting resolutely for just over an hour. Faisal remained unbeaten on 80, made off 202 balls in just short of four hours with eight fours. Samiullah finished with figures of 4 for 59 to add to his first-innings 3 for 75.

PIA have now qualified from the five-team Group A for the Patron's Trophy Quadrangular Stage round that starts from January 15, along with second-placed Habib Bank. SNGPL, with nine points from their three previous matches, also needed to win here to take their tally to 18, something which could even have taken them into the Quadrangular Stage ahead of PIA. They eventually had to settle for fourth place. PIA, who have never won the Patron's Trophy but shared the title last season with Habib Bank after the final was rained off, ended with a total of 18 points that kept them ahead of the rest.

Pakistan Customs batted stubbornly in their follow-on innings to reach 292 for 5 as their final-round Patron's Trophy match against Habib Bank ended in a draw at the United Bank Limited (UBL) Sports Complex Ground No.1 at Karachi. This splendid display, however, came as no consolation to them in real terms as, having finished at the bottom of the five-team ranking table, they had already suffered relegation to the non-first-class Patron's Trophy Grade-II circuit of the next season. Habib Bank, record seven-time Patron's Trophy winners, took three points from the draw to take their total in four matches to 15. They have now qualified for the Quadrangular Stage round that starts from January 15 alongside Group A table-toppers PIA.

Customs were forced to follow-on by Habib Bank, after they had fallen 223 runs short of the latter's big first innings total of 506. Resuming at 49 for 1 in their second innings yesterday, Customs batted throughout the day scoring 292 for 5.The second-wicket stand between Kashif Siddiq (42) and Azhar Shafiq (45), both left-handers, produced 91. Another 109 came for the fourth-wicket partnership that took the score beyond 200.

The experienced Afsar Nawaz top-scored with 83 that took him just short of three hours while he faced 123 balls and hit 16 fours and a six. Fawad Alam, the young left-hander, followed his first-innings 94 with an unbeaten 71. Fawad, 20, was part of the Pakistan team at the Under-19 World Cup in Bangladesh in early 2004. He hit seven fours in his knock that came off 165 balls in almost three and a half hours. With Rashid Ali, he added an exact 50 for the unbroken sixth-wicket stand when the match was called off.

Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) took the first-innings lead and the three points on offer over Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) on the final day of their match at the Sheikhupura Stadium on Thursday, but still failed to move to the next stage. PTCL continued to lead the points table with a tally of 18 but WAPDA, even though they came at par with National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) with 15 points, slumped to third place in the five-team table on the basis of more wins and the net run-rate.

NBP won two of their four matches, also beating Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) in Peshawar yesterday, after either side had forfeited its first innings. WAPDA won only once while drawing the other three matches. Moreover, NBP finished with a net run-rate of +1.427 while WAPDA's figure was +0.957. Their efforts here yesterday were thus of no avail. WAPDA were the Patron's Trophy runners-up in 2003-04 while PTCL have never won a national title. Alongside NBP, the latter have now qualified from Group B for the Quadrangular Stage round.

With the first two days of the match washed out because of heavy rains and their aftermath in the city, play started only on the third day on Wednesday. Put in to bat, PTCL were reeling at 108 for 8 in 54.3 overs by the day's close. Yesterday, PTCL were all out for 134 in 66.2 overs, with Farooq Iqbal, the slow left-armer, finishing with figures of 6 for 46 runs in 23.2 overs.

WAPDA then spent the rest of the time compiling a score of 232 for 6 in 73 overs and taking the first-innings lead. Adil Nisar, the captain, top-scored with 87 off 178 balls with nine fours and two sixes. His second-wicket stand with Tariq Aziz (28) produced 83 runs, and another 51 were added for the third wicket with Aamer Sajjad (38). Mohammad Hussain, a former Pakistan left-arm spinner, collected five of the six wickets to fall.

© Daily News

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