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The News

Sabir's ton lifts Karachi Urban

Round-up of the first day's play of the seventh round matches of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Gold League

Sialkot did well on the opening day to restrict Karachi Harbour to a score of 235 for 8 at the National Stadium in Karachi. With opening bowler Kashif Raza drawing first blood and offspinner Tariq Mahmood later taking three wickets, Karachi Harbour lost their way a little after opting to bat first on a wicket that looked full of runs.
The opening partnership between Khalid Latif and the in-form Wajihuddin was worth 64 in exactly two hours' time. Wajihuddin, fresh from a half-century in either innings of the previous match against Faisalabad, was the first to go after having scored 47 off 104 balls with six fours.
Latif was the next to go, after making a slow but defiant 22 off 111 deliveries with a four and a six. Naumanullah then saw his team slump to 87 for 4 with Tariq sending Aariz Kamal and the prolific Fawad Alam, for a duck, back in a matter of eight balls.
Wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed lifted Karachi's spirits through a 61-run stand for the fifth wicket with his captain Naumanullah. Sarfraz, who led the victorious Pakistan Under-19 side to victory in the World Cup in Sri Lanka last year, scored a fighting 70 off 138 balls with seven fours. Naumanullah hit a brisk 44 off 72 balls with seven boundaries.
Later, only the eighth-wicket pair of Anwar Ali and Atiq Maqbool showed some resistance. Anwar was still at the crease with an unbeaten 23 to his name, having hit two fours and a six while facing 58 balls.
Opener Agha Sabir made a fighting century as Karachi Urban looked good for a place in the Gold League final against Faisalabad at the United Bank Limited (UBL) Sports Complex Ground No.1 in Karachi.
By the close of play, Karachi Urban, currently placed second behind defending champions Sialkot in the points table, had reached an impressive total of 288 for 6. Karachi got off to a poor squad after opener Asif Zakir was bowled by Tauqeer Hussain for a duck off the first ball he faced. Saeed Bin Nasir and captain Hasan Raza both struck form after having failed miserably in the previous round match against Sialkot. Sabir and Saeed added 117 for the second wicket in just over two hours 20 minutes.
Sabir's 102 came off 174 balls with nine fours and a six. Saeed made 52 off 123 balls with seven fours and a six. Sabir added 87 for the third-wicket with Raza, who scored 41 off 86 balls with five boundaries. Asim Kamal, having recently returned from Pakistan's tour of South Africa, failed with a score of six. Faisal Iqbal, however, made 31 not out and shared a sixth-wicket partnership of 53 with Imran Javed (23).
Rain washed out the opening day of the match between Peshawar and Lahore Shalimar at Peshawar's Arbab Niaz Stadium. Peshawar, champions twice before in 1998-99 and 2004-05, although currently placed at number five in the points table with 18 points, have an outside chance of making the Gold League final if they attain an outright win in this match with the full nine points.
At the same time, they would hope that the two top sides in the ranking -- Sialkot and Karachi Urban -- do not add to their tally of 24 points each. With the first day lost to rain and no prospect of play on the second day either, it is a setback.
Lahore Shalimar too are looking for a win here. They are at rock bottom in the table with a mere six points from their previous five matches of which they have won none. Only an outright victory over Peshawar can help them avoid demotion to next season's Silver League circuit.