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Azam Maqbool Sheikh
LAHORE: Opener Saleem Elahi hit a brilliant unbeaten 105 to steer HBL to an easy seven-wicket victory over Karachi Whites in a fixture of the NBP National One-day Cricket Championship at the Gaddafi Stadium here Tuesday. With this victory, the bankers have now qualified for the semi-finals.
Saleem, who holds the distinction of scoring a hundred in his very first One-day International for Pakistan, hit 10 boundaries while facing 140 balls in his 186-minute stay at the crease. It was Saleem's third hundred of the championship which enabled the bankers to overhaul a moderate Karachi total of 188 all out with 22 balls and seven wickets to spare. His second wicket stand of 116 with young Taufeeq Umer made the target look even more easier. Taufeeq faced 73 balls, two of which were hit to the boundary, before being trapped lbw by medium-pacer Muhammad Hasnain for 45. Hasnain, who also claimed the wicket of opener Imran Farhat for 12, bowled with line and length to get two for 35 in 10 overs. However, he lacked support from the other end as his opening partner conceded 30 runs in just four overs.
Earlier, skipper Shadab Kabir, another Test discard, held the Karachi Whites innings together with a solid knock of 60 off 104 balls after HBL captain Saleem Malik won the toss and preferred to chase the target. Most of the other Karcahi batsmen got the start but none of them went on to play a long innings. Muhammad Shakeel was the second highest scorer with 24 followed by Muhammad Masroor 22, Arif Mehmood and Zeeshan Pervez 17 each and Naumanullah 10. Saleem Malik was the pick of HBL bowlers claiming three for 40 in 10 overs. Taufeeq Umer (2/17) also bowled his off-breaks with economy and success while Sajid Shah, Kabir Khan and Danish Kaneria got one wicket apiece.
Salim Elahi was declared Man-of-the-Match. Umpires Nazir Junior and Sajjad Asghar supervised the match while Abdul Sami was the match referee.