Patrons Trophy, Quadrangular Stage January 24, 2006

Wasim Khan and Zahid Saeed bowl National Bank to victory

National Bank defeated Habib Bank by seven wickets, on the third day of their four-day, second-round Patron's Trophy Quadrangular Stage match at Multan on Monday, and picked up the full 9 points for their impressive victory. After having attained a first-innings lead of 96 runs, while scoring 357 in reply to Habib Bank's rather modest total of 261, National Bank dismissed them for a poor 193 in the second innings. Needing a mere 98 runs to win, National Bank raced to 99 for 3 in a matter of 15.1 overs and romped home with a full day to spare.

For Habib Bank, record seven-time winners of the Patron's Trophy, this has certainly been a big setback. They now have their last match coming up against Pakistan International Airlines (PIA in Rawalpindi from Friday and only an outright win would keep them in contention for the title. Five-time Patron's Trophy champions National Bank start their last game, also from Friday, against Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) here in Multan, and they appear to have a fair chance of winning this season's trophy.

Yesterday, Wasim Khan (3-37) and Zahid Saeed (3-47), the medium pacers, simply ran through the Habib Bank batting after the latter's opening pair had set up the prospect of a big total with a dream start of 122 runs in two hours 25 minutes. Rafatullah Mohmand, who was in the national squad for a brief period prior to the first Test against India in Lahore, made 53 off 106 balls with seven fours. Taufeeq Umar, the Pakistan Test discard, scored a worthy 68, off 109 deliveries with eight hits to the ropes. Nine wickets then fell with the addition of only a further 71 runs. With Hasan Raza, the captain who was hurt on Saturday's opening day, unable to bat the fight appeared to have been taken out of the Habib Bank batting. Wasim captured seven wickets in the match, with figures of 4 for 44 and 3 for 37 while Mansoor Amjad, the legspinner, had hauls of 3 for 63 and 2 for 29 in the two innings.

Earlier, after resuming at their overnight 350 for 8, National Bank were bowled out for 357. In the second innings, Pakistan reject Imran Nazir quickly put his team on the road to a win, with a quickfire 35 off 43 balls that included six fours and a six.

Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) were staring at defeat right in the face by the end of the third day against Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) at the Khan Research Laboratories Stadium on Monday.

After PTCL had surrendered a 147-run first-innings lead, having just averted the follow-on, PIA batted briskly to put up a score of 231 for 4 in their second innings at which juncture Faisal Iqbal, the captain, applied closure. This left PTCL 379 runs to produce a win with a full day to go. Their openers made three runs in three overs without being separated by stumps yesterday, but PIA seem to be in command of the situation.

PTCL were the only team among the four in the Quadrangular Stage's first round to pick up any points. They collected three after gaining the first-innings lead over Habib Bank in a drawn fixture at the Multan Cricket Stadium. PIA and National Bank failed to get any points as their first round match was abandoned without a ball being bowled due to rain and bad weather. Now they appear to be on their way to take the full 9 points. Yesterday, PTCL started their first innings at 147 for 6 still needing another 73 runs to avoid following-on. The seventh-wicket stand of 73 helped them get nearer their target. Shahzad Malik was eventually dismissed for 89, made off 136 balls with 12 fours.

Fazl-e-Akbar, PIA fast bowler, finished with figures of 5 for 62 from 20 overs. When he got Shahzad, he completed 50 first-class wickets in this season. PIA's second innings was embellished with a knock of 78 off 106 balls with 11 fours and a six by Ghulam Ali, the veteran opener. Another senior player Asif Mujtaba followed his first innings 65 with a worthy 48 and Faisal hit an unbeaten 56 off a mere 55 deliveries with three fours and two sixes. PIA are still looking for their first outright Patron's Trophy title since the inception of the competition back in 1972-73. Last season, they shared the trophy with Habib Bank after the final between the two was disrupted by rain and no result could be achieved.