United Bank Limited sealed their place in the final of the President's Trophy with a 169-run win over Port Qasim Authority in Karachi. Though they were chasing the game during the first half of the Test, a substantial second-innings total courtesy Abid Ali's century and a stellar bowling effort led by captain Atif Maqbool, who took eleven wickets for the match, took United Bank to title contention.
Mohammad Sami's four wickets limited United Bank to 232 and Port Qasim were able to build on their bowers' exploits largely thanks to a belligerent 140 from captain Khalid Latif. He arrived with the score at 153 for 5 and his 116-ball effort was vital to the side securing a 98-run lead. Maqbool, the offspinner, was the star bowler for United Bank, claiming 6 for 102, but his opposite number snared the limelight, biffing 12 sixes and nine fours.
United Bank, who had ended a 15-year hiatus from top-grade first-class cricket in 2011, were able to overhaul the lead they conceded and set up a formidable fourth-innings target of 290 through Abid's 128, his ninth first-class ton. He paced his innings quite well and ensured he wasn't bogged down by striking 18 fours. With a little help from Mohammad Zohaib (61) and No. 9 Kashif Bhatti (64), United Bank were able to put up a much better effort second time around. Azam Hussain was the pick of the bowlers with 7 for 102.
Port Qasim's chase stuttered even as it began with the fall of four early wickets. Asim Kamal's half-century was only one of three double-figure scores in the innings as Maqbool proved troublesome once again, ending up with 5 for 39 and sealing United Bank's victory to help the four-time Quad-e-Azam champions bid for their first President's Trophy title.
Invited to bat, SNGPL were dented early and were propped up only by Misbah's battling century. The next best score was 18 as Azhar Attari claimed five wickets for the third time in his first-class career. Misbah faced more than twice as many balls as any of his team-mates, striking seven sixes and eight fours.
Though only 187 was needed to claim a first-innings lead, WAPDA's batting struggled right from the start. Having lost their first wicket with no score on the board, they were shaken by regular jolts largely courtesy left-arm spinner Khalid, who ended up with 5 for 31. A slew of starts were wasted by the WAPDA batsmen resulting in them being dismissed for 137.
With a lead of 49, SNGPL went for the kill. After opener Taufeeq Umar fell for a 66-ball 65, Umar Akmal was promoted to No.3 and skinned 77 off only 37 balls. WAPDA were set 272 for victory but they fell well short as again none of their batsmen could post more than 38. Khalid snared four wickets in the second innings as well.
Invited to bat, National Bank suffered a trend of batsmen failing to capitalise on their starts. Akmal, coming at No.6 broke the trend with a rapid century. His skill at finding the boundary was apparent as he mauled 94 of his 106 runs through fours (19) and sixes (3). Fifties from Nasir Jamshed and Fawad Alam had set the platform for his explosion as National Bank declared their innings on 325.
Offspinner Adnan Rasool raked through the Habib Bank middle and lower order to claim his 10th five-wicket haul, which proved instrumental in bundling Habib Bank out for 178. Imran Farhat, the captain, led the resistance with brother Humayun chipping in but the lack of substantial partnerships and big scores meant National Bank gained a lead of 147.
Akmal pressed the advantage further with an aggressive half-century in the second innings and his team-mates followed suit. Wahab Riaz was promoted to No.4 and smashed five fours and two sixes in a 17-ball 40 that powered National Bank to 181 in 22.2 overs, when they declared to set up a target of 329.
The chase began well as the openers put up Habib Bank's first fifty-partnership of the match. Bilal Shafayat and Imran Farhat posted useful half-centuries but neither batsman could convert. With the score on 171, Farhat was the fifth batsman to fall and Habib Bank lost a further three wickets with the score on 204 to be eight down. Ahmed Jamal picked up the final two in the 77th over to complete his five-for as victory was sealed.
PTV were routed for 212 in the first innings, having been put in. It did not look likely, with Akbar Badshah and Mohammad Sami putting on 74 for the fourth wicket. The score was still a reasonably healthy 157 for 4, but the last six wickets posed very little threat as Sajjad Hussain and Imran Khan claimed four wickets each.
ZTBL's batting effort was dominated by Sharjeel as he went at nearly a run-a-ball, slamming an astonishing 40 fours and five sixes. The rest of the top-order, though, could contribute only 24 runs to the total and ZTBL were in considerable trouble at 61 for 5. But that was when Sharjeel took control. He added 66 runs with Luqman Butt and a further 214 with the keeper Shakeel Ansar, who struck his fourth first-class fifty.
PTV would not be scuttled out again as Sami went on to make his second first-class ton, with 12 fours and two sixes, and enjoyed good support from Zohaib Ahmed who struck 81 as they reached 290 for 5 at the end of the fourth day.