ABN AMRO Cup, 2006-07 March 10, 2007

Peshawar Panthers enter final despite defeat

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Peshawar Panthers were beaten by Lahore Eagles by 26 runs in their last preliminary round match at the UBL Sports Complex in Karachi, but still made the final of the ABN-AMRO Cup Gold League, and they will now meet Sialkot Stallions at the National Stadium on Monday.

Both sides, as well as Karachi Dolphins finished with an identical position of 16 points each, but Peshawar remained ahead on the basis of net run-rate. Sialkot Stallions had already qualified for the final, having collected 20 points from their six matches of which they won five.

The Panthers, who put the Eagles in after winning the toss, did well to bowl their opponents out for 214 in the 48th over. The Panthers were then restricted to a score of 188 for 8 in their 50 overs and lost the match.

Lahore wicketkeeper Humayun Farhat hammered a run-a-ball 55 with five fours and six and helped add 52 for the seventh wicket with Junaid Zia (19). The Panthers' slow left-arm bowler Zohaib Khan was brilliant with a haul of 6 for 37 while wicketkeeper Zulfiqar Jan effected four stumpings.

Yasir Hameed top-scored for the Panthers with 47 off only 35 balls with seven fours and a six. Jannisar Khan later made an unbeaten 33 off 60 balls with a solitary boundary. Almost all the Eagles bowlers chipped in with a wicket or two and did very well by keeping the Panthers batsmen and scoring in check.

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Last season's champions Faisalabad Wolves plummeted to their sixth defeat in as many matches, as Karachi Zebras beat them by 25 runs at the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Sports Complex Stadium in Karachi. Karachi Zebras batted first and scored 248 for 7 in their allotted 50 overs. The Wolves were then bowled out for 223 in 47.3 overs.

There was really an inconsequential match as neither team was in contention for Monday's tournament final and Karachi Zebras finished at number five in the seven-team table. The Wolves with six straight losses and no points ended at rock bottom.

The day was highlighted by a bowling effort of Karachi seamer Imran Javed who took 5 for 39. The top-score came from Zebras' in-form opener Khurram Manzoor, who hit 61 off 90 balls with seven fours in a 90-run opening partnership with Asif Zakir (37).

Faisal Iqbal hit a run-a-ball 51 with three fours and a six. He then held three catches in the field. The Wolves were off to a sound start of 72 in 11 overs but the middle order stumbled. Both captain Misbah-ul-Haq (4) and Naved Latif (0), two of their region's best batsmen, both fell cheaply.

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Fawad Alam's allround performance helped Karachi Dolphins defeat Rawalpindi Rams by seven wickets at the National Stadium in Karachi. Alam took 5 for 53 with his left-arm spinners and blasted 127 off just 88 balls as his side chased down the target of 254 in just 34.4 overs.

Alam recorded his best bowling figures and his ton was his second in domestic limited overs, striking 15 fours and two sixes. The Dolphins lost two wickets with only 20 on board. Opener Khalid Latif and Fawad then added an incredible 213 for the third wicket in just 29 overs. Khalid, with his career's third century, remained unbeaten till the end, his 100 coming off 99 balls with 11 fours and two sixes.

For Rawalpindi, three batsmen contributed half-centuries. Wicketkeeper Ali Sarfraz made an unbeaten 65 off 56 balls with four fours and two sixes. Opener Adnan Mufti's 58 came off 73 balls while Usman Saeed hit 53 off 99 balls with one four.

Yet, inspite of having taken their points tally to 16 as Peshawar Panthers and Lahore Eagles did the same, Karachi Dolphins couldn't qualify for the tournament final. The Panthers have joined Sialkot Stallions in Monday's final, here at the National Stadium, on the basis of a superior net run-rate.