Customs and Habib Bank move into semi-finals
Pakistan Customs surprised Habib Bank with an emphatic 59 runs win at the United Bank Limited (UBL) Sports Complex Ground No.1 on Wednesday, but both sides have made into the semi-finals. Habib Bank were dismissed for just 177 runs in 44.4 overs after Customs had compiled a rather modest 236 for 9 in their allotted fifty overs, after having been asked to bat first.
The win gave Customs 12 points after three wins and a loss in four matches. But they moved to the top of the ranking table with a superior net run-rate as compared to Habib Bank's, who too finished with the same number of points. A second consecutive century by in-form middle-order batsman Afsar Nawaz did the trick for Customs, who lifted them from a score of 42 for 3, with all wickets having been picked up by Sajid Shah, the opening bowler.
Afsar, who had on Monday attained his first hundred in a major limited overs match, hit 15 fours in his splendid 119 and was involved in a 94-run fourth-wicket stand with Fawad Alam (37). Four Customs wickets fell with only 19 runs added thereafter but Afsar found useful partners as the total was taken to 236 for 9 at the end of the full quota of overs.
The Habib Bank batsmen put up an uncharacteristic display in reply. While veteran off-spinner Murtaza Hussain struck telling blows to restrict the Habib Bank batsmen, with impeccable figures of 4 for 18 in 8.4 overs, Jalat Khan, the young left-arm spinner, made a useful contribution by taking 3 for 32 in eight overs. After being 126 for 3 at one stage, Habib Bank slumped to 155 for 8 when there was a short rally which took the total to 177. But the last two wickets fell at the same score with the objective still quite far off.
On a day of upsets, National Bank gained a three-wicket win in a tall-scoring, fifth and final round, Group B Patron's Cup match at the Iqbal Stadium on Wednesday, but they failed to displace Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) from the top spot in the points table.
Both the sides ran up a total of 300 plus in yesterday's match. ZTBL were put in first and compiled 304 runs for 8 in the allotted fifty overs, National Bank responded positively with a score of 305 for 7 and won with only four balls to spare. But they failed to lift themselves from the fourth position in the five-team Group B table. In spite of the washed-out match between Water and Power Development Authority and Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited in Rawalpindi yesterday, these two teams stayed ahead of National Bank due to a superior net run-rate.
ZTBL, without their captain Rao Iftikhar who was whisked away for national duty, must have believed they had done well batting first. Faisal Naved, the opener, hit 71 off 111 balls with six fours and a six and helped add 123 runs for the second wicket with veteran Zahoor Elahi, whose 68 required a mere 66 balls to make and included 12 boundaries. Naved Ashraf, the stand-in captain, then hammered 65 runs off only 55 balls with five fours and two sixes as 58 were made for the third-wicket stand. A total of 39 extras, which included 25 wides, also helped ZTBL's cause.
With three wickets down for 48 in 11 overs, National Bank appeared to be in trouble. But the rollicking 155 runs fourth-wicket partnership in 21 overs turned the tide their way. Naved Latif, the former Pakistan player, achieved his eighth century in major limited overs cricket, as he took just 80 balls to hammer 113 runs with 11 fours and five sixes. His young partner Shahid Yousuf hit 82 runs off 97 deliveries with a four and two sixes. The rest appeared quite easy for National Bank, as the remaining 102 runs were comfortably made in a little more than 17 overs although four more wickets fell until the target was achieved.
A crucial fifth and final round, Group B match was washed out without a ball being bowled at the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) Stadium on Wednesday.
This situation helped defending champions Water and Power Development Authority(WAPDA) to move into the tournament's semifinals stage, ahead of their yesterday's opponents Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) on the basis of a superior net run-rate. WAPDA, PTCL and National Bank all ended with eight points each. WAPDA thus will have another go at the Patron's Cup title that they won last season for the first time in their history. ZTBL remained on top of the points table. They will meet Habib Bank, the second placed team in Group A, in a semifinal in Karachi on February 18. Karachi will host the other semifinal too on the same day, which will be played between WAPDA and Pakistan Customs. The final of the competition will be staged at the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Sports Complex in Karachi on February 20.
Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) completed an overwhelming nine-wicket victory against Pakistan International Airlines' and put an end to PIA's hopes of qualifying for the semifinals. SNGPL themselves managed to move only to third place in the five-team table from their fourth position and thus missing out on a semi-final spot. Mohammad Hafeez, SNGPL opener, hit his second century in consecutive matches, as his team raced to a score of 178 runs for the loss of a solitary wicket in just 32.1 overs. PIA had been brushed aside earlier for a paltry 177 in 49.2 overs.
Pakistan discard Hafeez, who has played in three Tests and 30 one-day internationals, hit his fourth century - an unbeaten 112, that came off only 104 balls with eight fours and four fours - in a major limited overs match. With Haafiz Majid Jahangir, who hit an unbeaten 60, Hafeez's unbroken second-wicket partnership was worth 167 runs in about 30 overs.
PIA, one of the most successful limited overs sides on the domestic circuit with 10 titles to their credit as opposed to Habib Bank's 11, actually went down without a fight in this crucial last Group A game. Yasir Hameed, the Pakistan opener, was gone for a duck on the fifth ball of the first over. Kamran Sajid, the left-hand bat, scored a stubborn 20 off 59 balls as the third-wicket stand produced 55 runs. Veteran Asif Mujtaba top-scored with 54 off 91 balls with six fours while Mahmood Hamid, the captain, chipped in with a quick 45 off 53 balls with two fours and a six. At 129 for 4 in the 39th over, PIA could have tried to lift their total but they lost the last six wickets with only a further 48 runs added. Imran Khalid, the slow left-arm spinner, was especially effective, taking four cheap wickets for 22 runs in his 10 overs. The two teams to qualify for the tournament semifinals from Group A are Pakistan Customs and Habib Bank.