ABN AMRO Cup, Gold League, 3rd round

Sialkot Stallions retain top spot with third victory

March 3, 2007

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Shahzad Malik's brilliant century paled into relative insignificance as Karachi Zebras' Khurram Manzoor compiled a magnificent unbeaten 163, but Sialkot Stallions still registered victory -- their third in succession -- as they won a tall-scoring match by 16 runs.

After having been put in first, the Stallions who remained on the top of the seven-team table with the full 12 points from their three matches, rammed in a total of 317 for eight in their allotted 50 overs. The Zebras made a spirited reply, but could only reach 301-9 before their overs ran out.

Both Shahzad and Khurram posted their maiden centuries in major limited overs cricket. The 29-year-old Shahzad, after 11 fifties in his career, reached three-figures in his 58th such match. He faced only 111 balls for his 105 runs that included 13 fours and a six. Khurram, just 20 years old and making his 15th appearance, opened the batting for Karachi Zebras and stayed not out till the end. His 163 required only 158 balls to make with 16 fours and two sixes.

Amin-ur-Rehman, the wicketkeeper, and Saeed Bin Nasir being dismissed for ducks by left-arm seamer Sarfraz Ahmed didn't help the Zebras' cause. The middle-order, including Faisal Iqbal and Hasan Raza, also failed to get going.

After a start of 70 runs with Asif Zakir (30), Afsar Nawaz helped Khurram in an 86-run stand for the sixth wicket, with the latter's 41 coming off 50 balls with five fours. Khurram dominated the later partnerships till the end but it just wasn't enough.

Shahzad earlier had a 169-run fourth-wicket liaison with Shahid Yousuf (68 off 71 balls with three fours and a six) in about 25 overs. Azam Hussain, the left-arm spinner, took 4 for 54 in his 10 overs.

Sialkot Stallions will now meet defending champions Faisalabad Wolves in a fourth-round match on Sunday while Karachi Zebras will have a break until the fifth-round games on Tuesday.

Peshawar Panthers downed Karachi Dolphins by 45 runs, in a third-round match, on Friday, and moved up to third place in the seven-team ranking table.

Having been put in first, the Panthers scored a total of 251 for 7 in their stipulated fifty overs. The Dolphins in reply were bowled out for only 206 runs in 46.2 overs.

The Peshawar innings was embellished with a superb 122, off 134 balls with 13 boundaries, by the 22-year-old Aftab Khan who followed his unbeaten 84 in the Panthers win over Faisalabad Wolves on Wednesday. This was his first century in major limited overs cricket, in his 38th such match. Aftab's second-wicket stand with opener Rafatullah Mohmand (52 off 78 balls with four fours) produced 109 runs.

For the Dolphins, Fawad Alam, the in-form left-hand batsman, hit an enterprising 60 off 78 deliveries with three fours. But eight Karachi wickets fell for a mere 79 runs in a matter of 17 overs.

Peshawar Panthers will now meet Rawalpindi Rams in a fourth-round match, at the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Sports Complex Stadium on Sunday. On the same day, Karachi Dolphins are playing against Lahore Eagles at the UBL Sports Complex Ground No.1.

Nasir Jamshed powered a Lahore Eagles win with an unbeaten 92, as the last season's runners-up defeated defending champions Faisalabad Wolves by a . convincing five-wicket margin.

After having been asked to bat first, the Wolves succumbed to their second straight loss as their modest score of 189 all out was surpassed by the Eagles, with their reply of 192 for five with almost 15 overs to spare.

Nasir, the 17-year-old left-hand batsman, hammered his 92 off 90 balls with 12 boundaries. He was eight runs short of what would have been his second hundred in major limited overs cricket.

Lahore Eagles jumped up one place to second in the seven-team table, after having been displaced from their top spot after the second-round game. Holders Faisalabad have been pushed to rock bottom with two defeats in as many matches.

Junaid Zia (3 for 30) continued with his good form as the Wolves put up a rather small total. After the 82-run fourth-wicket stand between captain Naved Latif (56 off 95 balls with four fours) and Ijaz Ahmed Junior (39), their team lost seven wickets with only 59 runs added in the last 14 overs.

For Lahore, the third-wicket partnership produced 105 runs. Nasir Jamshed's partner Aamer Sajjad contributed 44 off 62 balls with the help of six fours and a six.

Faisalabad Wolves will now face current table leaders Sialkot Stallions in a fourth round match on Sunday. On the same day, Lahore Eagles will play against Karachi Dolphins.

© Daily News

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