Karachi Whites and Karachi Blues won their respective matches in Pool A and Pool B to follow Rawalpindi and Sheikhupura into the semi-finals of the One-day tournament (Associations). Both these teams, hailing from the largest city of the country, had to surpass two opponents each in their Pools on net run rate to reach the semis.
In Pool A, Karachi Whites finished the fifth round with 16 points, at par with Rawalpindi and Lahore Whites. However, Lahore Whites could not move ahead because of inferior net run rate of +0.09, against Karachi's +2.42 and Rawalpindi's +0.92.
In Pool B, Karachi Blues, Gujranwala and Faisalabad all have 12 points after five matches each. However, only Karachi Blues go through, along with Sheikhupura (20 points after winning all their matches), because of a superior net run rate of +0.64 against Gujranwala's +0.42 and Faisalabad's -0.09.
In the Pool A match, played at UBL Sports Complex, Karachi, the home side thrashed Rawalpindi by an impressive margin of 88 runs to take their points tally to 16, at par with Rawalpindi. This is incidentally Rawalpindi's first defeat in the competition, having already reached the semis, thanks to their four wins in a row in the previous rounds.
Karachi owe their success to a magnificent hundred by Hasan Raza and a blitz by Shahid Afridi, who hammered the bowlers to all parts of the ground on his way to 64 off just 28 balls, while hitting 12 fours and 2 sixes.
Hasan Raza's innings, on the other hand, was lot more composed, as he drafted the initial part of his innings with caution before cutting lose after reaching the fifty-run mark. He remained not out on 115 off 103 ball, which contained 13 fours and two sixes.
Imran Javed and Arif Mahmood also made useful contributions with the bat, getting 29 (43 balls) and 30 not out (30 balls), respectively, with the home side closing their innings on 322 for 6 in 50 overs.
For Rawalpindi, Naeem Akhtar and Iftikhar Mahmood grabbed two wickets each for 62 and 25, whereas Wasim Ahmed got one for 27.
Rawalpindi lost their first wicket - Nauman Aman - on only the third ball of the first over, bowled by Tanvir Ahmed. However, a second-wicket stand of 107 between Hashim Iqbal (42 off 75) and Naeem Akhtar (70 off 67) brought them very much back into contention.
The introduction of Arif Mahmood at this juncture turned the tables completely in home side's favour, as he grabbed three wickets in quick succession. He got one more scalp later on to finish with excellent figures of 4 for 45.
Rawalpindi could reach 234 for 7 in their allotted 50 overs, with none of their batsmen quite being able to force the pace.
In the Pool B match, played at Sargodha Sports Stadium, Karachi Blues outclassed the home team in every department of the game, as they comprehensively won the match by 136 runs, after posting a commanding 307 on the board.
The Karachi side was helped by a magnificent 120 off 132 balls by opener Tariq Haroon, as they raced to 118 in the 20th over. Tariq was well supported by Mansoor Baig who got 54 off 49 balls. Atif Ali Zaidi and Zahid Ghauri also made useful contributions of 31 and 35, respectively, off 39 balls each.
For Sargodha, the only worthwhile contribution came from skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (79 off 83 balls, 8 fours, 2 sixes), as the whole team was sent packing for 171 in 37.3 overs.
For Karachi, Mansoor Khan, the skipper, turned out to be the most successful bowler, getting 4 for 39. Raheel and Harris Ayaz bagged two wickets each for 21 and 17, respectively.
The semi-finals will be played on May 10, 2001 at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore and National Stadium, Karachi. The Karachi-fixture will see the two teams from Karachi clashing with each other, whereas Sheikhupura and Rawalpindi will meet at Lahore.