Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) took a realistic step towards winning their first ever Patrons Trophy Cricket Championship as they defeated Habib Bank by an emphatic 104-run margin on the final day of their third and final round Quadrangular Stage match at the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) Stadium at Rawalpindi.
Bazid Khan, the stand-in captain, made the expected decision of declaring PIA's second innings at their overnight score 315 for 7, leaving Habib Bank 297 to get on the final day. In response, Habib Bank's batsmen proceeded at a reckless pace and were all-out for 192 in 44.5 overs. Najaf Shah, the left-arm fast bowler, captured 5 for 40 to finish with a match haul of 9 for 100. It was the 21-year-old Najaf's first five-wicket haul of the season, taking his tally of wickets in 11 first-class matches to 39 at 24.02 runs apiece. He was ably supported by Imran Tahir, the legspinner, who got 3 for 57.
Habib Bank lost half their side with only 88 on the board. Due to some useful batting in the middle-order by Kamran Hussain (46) and Farhan Adil, who followed his first innings 76 with 35 runs off 38 balls with six fours, Habib Bank lifted their eventual total. It still fell far behind the win target, however.
As PIA surrendered a slender 19-run first-innings lead to Habib Bank, they gained only six points instead of the full nine for the victory. However, this took their tally to 15 points after the completion of their three matches from the previous total of nine. This puts National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) in a must-win situation, in the other match being played at the Sheikhupura Stadium, against Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL). NBP have nine points and they must collect another nine if they intend to win the Patron's Trophy title.
Although PIA have been Pakistan's national cricket champions on six occasions -- having won the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy title, the Patron's Trophy has somehow eluded them for the last 33 years. Habib Bank, on the other hand, have claimed this championship on a record seven occasions. Last season, they shared the trophy with PIA after the final was rained-off. NBP have been winners of this tournament on five occasions.
Needing to win their crucial third and final round match at the Sheikhupura Stadiumoutright, National Bank of Pakistan NBP) replied strongly to Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL)'s first-innings 317.
By the close of play, NBP had reached 223 for 4 and are now only 95 short of obtaining a lead over PTCL. But just a first-innings advantage won't be enough for them to clinch the season's Patrons Trophy title. After PIA's victory over Habib Bank in Rawalpindi yesterday, NBP need to add another nine points to their previous total of nine to get ahead of PIA. PIA, who have never won the Patron's Trophy in the competition's 33-year history since it was launched back in 1972-73, now have 15 points to their credit. Even a draw with three points here would not help NBP's cause.
PTCL resumed at their overnight 214 for 6 and flourished further to take their eventual tally to 317. Asim Kamal, not currently required for the Test series against India, took his seventh-wicket stand with Tahir Mughal to 127before falling five runs short of what would have been his ninth first-class hundred. He batted for four hours 20 minutes, faced 169 balls and hit 12 fours and a six. Tahir continued on to 58 off 128 balls in eight minutes short of three hours and sent seven hits to the ropes and one over them. For NBP, the fast bowling pair of Yasir Arafat and Wasim Khan captured four wickets each.
After the fall of an early wicket, NBP prospered through a 90-run second-wicket partnership. Imran Nazir, the Pakistan discard, hit 76 off a mere 55 deliveries with nine fours and a six, while i n contrast Mansoor Amjad faced 132 balls for his 62 with seven fours. Shahid Yousuf then joined Mansoor to add 80 for the third wicket, contributing 49 from 68 balls with seven fours and a six.
The match in Sheikhupura was earlier to have been held in Multan, to begin on Friday, but it was shifted for a Sunday start because floodlights are being installed at the Multan Cricket Stadium prior to the one-day International between Pakistan and India there next month.