QEA trophy's new format enters next phase
Fourteen teams participating in the Quaid-e-Azam trophy will enter the next stage of the first-class tournament under the new format, introduced this season to make the league more competitive. The top four teams from the two groups will play in the 'Super Eights' and the rest in the lower plate league.
The teams in the Super Eights will play three matches each before the final, and those in the other league will play two matches ahead of the final, on February 24.
The new phase of the tournament begins simultaneously in various venues in Pakistan on Wednesday.
The group stage, which concluded on Sunday, was dominated by Karachi Blues and Rawalpindi, who topped their respective groups - I and II respectively.
There were some dull games in the first group, in which 22 matches were drawn, and four called off as a 'no result', of the 42 played. Blues took 26 points with three wins and three draws, and Islamabad won two games, lost two and drew two to finish second. They were followed by Sialkot and Lahore Ravi, who were locked on 12 points each to take the third and fourth positions respectively. Ravi, who were the only side to remain unbeaten besides Blues, played five lifeless draws and had only one victory, against Quetta. Multan and Peshawar remained winless, with Quetta the only side in the bottom three to win a game.
Group II, however, was more competitive. Rawalpindi and Lahore Shalimar won three matches each to lead the points table, with Karachi Whites and Hyderabad taking the next two spots. The 2003-04 Quaid-e-Azam champions, Faisalabad, had a disappointing tournament, and so did Bahawalpur, who were winless and settled second from bottom in the points table, below Abbottabad.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent