Thanks to a career-best bowling achievement from Fazl-e-Akbar, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) coasted to a comfortablefour-wicket winover Pakistan Customs in their fourth-round Group A Patrons Cup one-day match at the United Bank Limited (UBL) Sports Complex Ground No.1 in Karachi.
Winning the toss and inserting Customs, PIA were given a fine start as Fazl-e-Akbar reduced them to 36 for 3. Standing tall was Afsar Nawaz, who added 73 for the fourth wicket with Fawad Alam, en route to his maiden limited-overs hundred. His run-a-ball 103 was laced with 10 fours and two sixes and was responsible for Customs getting to 233. Fazl-e-Akbar returned to grab three more wickets at the death to finish with 6 for 30, his best figures.
Ultimately, Customs total proved insufficient as PIA chased it down in 47.4 overs for the loss of six wickets. PIA, at one stage 168 for 6, were taken home thanks to an unbeaten 68-run stand between Mahmood Hamid, their captain, and Ahmed Zeeshan, the wicketkeeper.
The situation now is that both PIA and Customs are in contention for a semifinals spot with just one more round to go. Habib Bank are on top of the Group A table with the full 12 points from their previous three matches; PIA and Customs both have eight each to their credit. Hamid's 56 came off 39 balls with four fours and a six, while Zeeshan scored an unbeaten 29 off just 21 deliveries with two fours and a six.
Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) ended their Group A campaign with defeats in all four matches as Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) consigned them to aseven-wicket lossin Karachi.
Put in to bat, KRL finished on 272 for 6 thanks to a maiden limited-overs hundred from Saeed Anwar jnr. Anwar, 27, hit 111 from 140 deliveries and added 165 for the third wicket with Mohammad Farrukh (89). Ali Naqvi, the former Pakistan opener, contributed 42 from 35 balls to add a further 98 before Saji Ali, the left-arm fast bowler, set about a collapse with a career-best 5 for 43.
In response, SNGPL were given a fine hand from Mohammad Hafeez, another cricketer with national experience, whose unbeaten 137 saw them home in 43 overs. It was his third century in limited-overs cricket and his career highest, and he added 130 with Sufyan Munir (49). Following Munir's dismissal, Misbah-ul-Haq (51) combined with Hafeez to add 100 for the third wicket as SNGPL finished on a high.
KRL thus finished at the bottom of the five-team table with no points at all. SNGPL have now gained a win after having been beaten in their previous two matches. SNGPL's fifth and final round match is now coming up against PIA at the same venue on Wednesday.