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Aziz 90 leads HBL recovery after rickety start

Water and Power Development Authority 23 for no loss trail Habib Bank Limited 236 (Aziz 90, Rehman 53, Asif 4-29, Irfan 3-34) by 213 runs
Scorecard

Habib Bank Limited recovered from early bursts from Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Irfan to put up 236 against Water and Power Development Authority on the opening day of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy final at the National Stadium in Karachi.

HBL were tottering at 21 for 6 after being asked to bat, but were lifted by Rameez Aziz and the lower order. Aziz struck 90 and went past 4000 runs in first-class cricket in the process before he was the last man dismissed. In reply, WAPDA's openers Adnan Raees and Salman Butt, the captain, saw off five overs to take them to 23 for no loss.

Asif set the tone for HBL's early wobble with a wicket in his very first over by having Fakhar Zaman bowled, getting the ball to cut back in to the left-hander and go through the gate before crashing into middle stump. Asif then got one to move the other way when Imam-ul-Haq edged an awayswinger on a length to second slip. Two deliveries later, Imran Farhat was trapped in front of middle and leg and HBL's score read 19 for 3.

By then, Butt had already taken out opening bowler Waqas Maqsood after just three overs and replaced him with Irfan, who struck in his third over when Ahmed Shehzad top-edged a pull shot to mid-on. Irfan then got a double-strike in his next over, getting Jamal Anwar to edge to first slip before trapping Mohammad Waqas lbw. Aziz then joined hands with Fahim Ashraf to begin the repair job.

Aziz made a slow start, scoring just 4 off the first 31 balls he faced before unleashing a cover drive off Maqsood. Aziz and Ashraf shared a seventh-wicket partnership of 84 that pushed the score past 100. The two batted out 26.5 overs before Ashraf lobbed a return catch to Khalid Usman, the left-arm spinner. Usman appeared to have hastened the slide by ending Amad Butt's entertaining 21 when the batsman gave the charge and lost his stumps trying to force the ball across the line.

Aziz, however, hung around and forged the second decisive partnership of the innings, putting on 99 for the ninth wicket with Abdur Rehman, the HBL captain. Rehman hit six fours en route to his 53 off 92 balls before Maqsood bowled him for his only wicket. One over later, Aziz miscued a pull shot to mid-on to fall 10 short of a century and give Asif his fourth wicket.

While Asif and Irfan inflicted the bulk of the damage, they found support from Usman (2 for 40) and Maqsood (1 for 56).

Butt got off to a brisk start in WAPDA's reply, cracking three boundaries in his unbeaten 16 (17 balls). Raees was more sedate, playing out 15 balls and giving him company on 3.