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Sialkot earn their maiden title

Faisalabad 111 and 188 (Hafeez 59, Saeed 4-49, Sarfraz 4-77) lost to Sialkot 343 by an innings and 44 runs

Scorecard

Sialkot lifted the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy for the first time in their history following a clinical innings and 44 runs-win over Faisalabad inside three days at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Sarfraz Ahmed and Zahid Saeed turned in another fine performance with the ball, bowling out Faisalabad for 188.
This left-arm pace duo had earlier combined to trigger Faisalabad's manic collapse on day one, and the story was much the same today as they continued to extract lift and bounce from the third day pitch. Sarfraz was supreme in the morning, maintaining a nagging, probing line on and around off that, coupled with an ability to bring the ball back in to the batsmen, accounted for the wicket of Asif Hussain early, trapped leg before. He was given good support by the hard-working Tahir Mughal, who accounted for Misbah-ul-Haq in the same manner with a vicious inswinger.

Despite a fine 59 from Mohammad Hafeez, the former Pakistan opener, and a gutsy 43 not-out from Shehzad Malik, Faisalabad were unable to forge any commanding partnerships. Saeed returned for a fiery spell just after lunch, removing Naved Latif, Hafeez and Imran Khalid in succession. Saeed even found himself on a hat-trick after forcing Hafeez to edge to a diving Qaiser Abbas at gully and cleaning up Khalid with a full, swinging delivery.

The bad news continued as Sarfraz picked up his fourth wicket by having Ahmed Hayat caught down the leg side, while a brilliant pick-and-throw from Atiq-ur-Rehman at mid-on saw Shahid Nazir short of the non-striker's end. The final blow came when a slower delivery from Saeed yorked Samiullah Khan, the No. 11, and the fielders rushed in, yelling and whooping to congratulate the bowler. It was a well-deserved victory for a side that had never looked like losing, and the sight of the team huddling together, back-slapping each other and hugging Shafqat Rana, the coach, was a good indication of how far this Sialkot side has come this season.

Speaking to Ramiz Raja at the post-match ceremony, Misbah, the Faisalabad captain, summed up his disappointment at his team's display while commenting on the state of the wicket. "They [Sialkot] really outclassed us in all three departments of the game," he said. "Right from the word go on this wicket we were in trouble. A seaming wicket is not good for five-day cricket, I feel. Maybe that should be looked at." There was some consolation for Faisalabad, however, as Samiullah was named the Bowler of the Tournament and Mohammad Salman Wicketkeeper of the Tournament.

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