Rashid Khan, manager of victorious PIA side, said Friday that the semifinals and the final of the National One-day Cricket Championship provided ideal preparation for players named in the Sharjah Cup squad.

PIA won the championship with a nail-biting victory in the day-night final over Habib Bank by just six runs at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore Thursday.

"The semifinals and final had provided a number of players a perfect buildup for Sharjah Cup as they gained vital match practice in front of a sizable crowd," said Rashid.

The former Test medium-pacer commended the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for allowing Pakistan players represent their departments in the semifinals and final.

"Their (the players) presence made the difference for PIA in the crunch games against National Bank and Habib Bank," said Rashid and added, "we could not have won the one-day title without our star players, for which we are grateful to the PCB."

Rashid described the standard of cricket in both Lahore matches of the highest order. "It was good as that of an international match."

He paid rich tributes to Moin Khan, who led PIA astutely in trying circumstances in the semifinal and the final. "Moin was simply magnificent. He captained the side shrewdly and handled the pressure superbly in both crucial matches."

PIA, it may be recalled, came from behind to defeat last season's runners-up National Bank by nine runs in Tuesday's semifinal at the same venue.

Moin, the former Test captain, had the rare distinction of winning two major crowns in the same season. He skippered Karachi Whites to the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy Grade-I Championship title a month ago in Karachi.

On a different note, Rashid said the PCB should organize domestic cricket in such a way when Pakistan players are free to play to attract the spectators.

"There were around 5,000 people to watch the stars in action and thoroughly enjoyed one of the most exciting finals in domestic cricket," Rashid said.