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Azam Maqbool Sheikh
LAHORE, March 24: Ijaz Ahmed Junior hit a superlative 111 to steer Allied Bank to an emphatic 71-run win over Bahawalpur in a Pool B fixture of the National Bank One-day Cricket Tournament at the Gaddafi Stadium Friday.
ABL soon found themselves in trouble after being put into bat by Bahawalpur skipper Imran Adil. Aamer Sohail was the first batsman out for 15 with team's total standing at 27. Sohail faced 33 balls, two of which were hit to the boundary. Seven runs later, the bankers lost Taimur Khan for one, which made them 34 for two. Ijaz Junior then joined hands with Muhammad Nawaz for a third wicket stand of 63 before Nawaz was out for a sedate 26 off 78 balls. ABL lost Manzoor Akhtar (12) and Allay Haider for (4) to be precariously placed at 129 for 5.
Ijaz Junior then found an able partner in Humayun Farhat as the two put on 63 for the sixth wicket. Ijaz Junior hit 11 fours and one six in his 123-ball knock of 111 that took him 135 minutes. Humayun Farhat provided a late flurry to the innings with a quickfire 34 off just 19 balls and enabled the bankers to post a challenging total of 249 for 9. Humayun hit four boundaries and one six during his brief stay at the crease. Kamran Hussain, Imran Adil and Maqbool Hussain shared three wickets each for Bahawalpur.
Facing a stiff target of 250 for victory, Bahawalpur batsmen were all at sea against the experienced ABL bowling attack. Although Kamran Hussain hammered a quickfire 46 later in the innings, the target was always beyond Bahawalpur's reach. They were bowled out for 177 with 20 balls to spare. Aamer Sohail bowled with nagging line and length to capture four for 25 while Aaqib Javed finished with three for 23. Ijaz Junior was named Man of the Match.