Seven wickets between right-arm fast bowler Tanvir Ahmed and left-arm spinner Azam Hussain ensured Quaid-e-Azam Trophy champions Karachi Blues got off to a winning start in the competition, beating Sialkot by 60 runs at the National Stadium. Resuming on 63 for 2, with 220 more needed for a win, overnight batsman Faisal Khan stroked a patient half-century. But a four-wicket burst from Tanvir meant the middle order surrendered without a fight. Azam weaved his magic lower down the order, and accounted for Faisal as Karachi wrapped up proceedings in the 48th over of the day. The first-innings lead gained by Sialkot on the first day proved of insignificant.
Habib Bank Limited (HBL) had to be content with first-innings points after Ali Waqas' fourth first-class fifty helped Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) play out a stalemate at the National Bank of Pakistan Sports Complex. HBL could add only 38 runs from 18 overs to their overnight score of 222 for 7, with Shan Masood left stranded two short of a maiden first-class century. Right-arm quick Imran Ali was SNGPL's most successful bowler with four wickets. Set 226 to win, the SNGPL openers began positively, putting on 43. But twin blows from left-arm fast bowler Kamran Hussain pegged them back. Waqas hit 10 boundaries during his 108-ball stay and figured in two half-century partnerships, but HBL held on for the three points.
Pakistan batsman Younis Khan
's chances of making a quick international comeback seemed to have dimmed, after he managed only nine runs in each innings of the match. Having scored a paltry 7 and 4 for HBL in the final of the Quaid-e-Azam last month, his string of disappointing scores will make it hard for him to press for an international comeback. Younis was caught at short cover off Imran in the first innings against SNGPL, and perished to a sharp bat-pad catch in the second, off Mohammad Hafeez.
He had decided to take a break from international duties ahead of Pakistan's tour to New Zealand to regain his form, and was not considered for the Australia tour after making himself unavailable. Though team managers sent an SOS to Younis after their 170-run defeat in the first Test at Melbourne last week, PCB chairman Ijaz Butt refused to concede to their demand. "Younis has not made enough runs to prove that he is in good form and we cannot send a player like that," Butt told Pakistan-based Jang last week.
Pakistan are due to announce the one-day squad for the tour of Australia in the next couple of days, but the immediate future looks bleak for Younis.