Wickets galore as Faisalabad grab advantage
Twenty wickets tumbled on an eventful opening day of the 2005-06 Pentangular Cricket Championship at the Gaddafi Stadium on Thursday, as Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) were shot out for a pathetic 69 runs and Faisalabad too lost all their first-innings wickets in reply, though they managed to reach a comparatively adequate total of 277.
A depleted PIA side, missing several players who are touring Sri Lanka with the Pakistan team, had no answer to the Faisalabad pace trio after having been put in to bat first. The two openers both failed to score and only two batsmen managed to reach double figures.
Faisalabad appeared to be going the same way, when Mohammad Hafeez was dismissed first ball. But a 119-run fifth-wicket partnership put them on the road to recovery and at the end of the first day's play, Faisalabad had gained a substantial first-innings lead of 208.
Faisalabad's pacemen, Samiullah Niazi and Asad Ali, both captured four wickets each. Asad's four cost him only 19 while the left-armer Samiullah took 4 for 31 in nine overs.
For Faisalabad, Ijaz Ahmed junior narrowly missed his 29th hundred as he made 96 off only 115 balls with 16 boundaries in a stay of almost two-and-three-quarter hours at the crease. His fifth-wicket stand of 119 was with Mohammad Zahid, whose 60 runs came off 101 balls with 10 fours. Jannisar Khan, the Peshawar allrounder, captured 5 for 63 with his medium-pacers.
PIA are one of the three teams -- Habib Bank and United Bank being the other two -- who have won the Pentangular Trophy in the past on three occasions. Here in Lahore, they are struggling to hold on to their reputation. The match between Sialkot and NBP at the Multan Cricket Stadium, also due to start yesterday, has been postponed by a day and will now begin on Friday.
The Pentangular has been revived after a lapse of a full decade. The five teams qualified for this season's event are the top sides of the domestic circuit. National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) are one of them, by virtue of winning the Patron's Trophy Championship while PIA had ended as the runners-up. Sialkot won the season's Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Championship Gold League title with Faisalabad taking second spot. Karachi Harbour are the fifth team in the competition, as they had emerged champions of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Silver League.