If Fazl-e-Akbar played the role of Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL)'s tormentor in the first innings, on the final day it was the turn of his Peshawar teammate Umar Gul to take on a similar role. Gul captured 5 for 51 as PTCL, set a target of 379 runs to win, were bowled out for 239 and suffered defeat at the hands of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) by a 139-run margin.
PTCL yesterday started their second innings at three for no wicket. The first three wickets fell with the score at 67 but then Ashar Zaidi, the left-hand batsman, and Aamer Bashir, the captain, added 136 runs for the fourth wicket. Ashar's splendid 66 came off 107 balls with 10 fours while Aamer scored an exact 50, off 119 balls with seven boundaries. Then, Gul struck with his five wickets as PTCL slumped from 203-3 to 228-8. The end was not too far off. Fazl-e-Akbar added two wickets to his first innings 5-62 as medium-pacer Kamran Sajid followed his 2-31 with another useful 2-21. The last seven PTCL wickets crashed for a mere 36 runs.
PIA thus moved into the second position behind National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), who had beaten Habib Bank, record seven-time winners of the Patron's Trophy, on Monday. NBP occupy the top spot -- although they have the same number of points (9) as PIA's -- because they have a superior net run-rate, a figure of +1.155. PIA's net run-rate is +0.246. PIA have thus brightened their chances of winning their first ever Patron's Trophy title. From Friday, they start their last match of the Quadrangular Stage against Habib Bank. Strangely, eversince the Patron's Trophy Championship was introduced back in 1972-73, PIA have never been able to pick up a title. Last season, however, they shared the trophy with Habib Bank after the final between the two was rained-off without producing any result. PTCL, relative newcomers on the national scene who haven't won any titles yet, will meet five-time Patron's Trophy champions NBP in their last match, starting at the Multan Cricket Stadium also from Friday. The team, which tops the Quadrangular Stage points table, wins the Patron's Trophy.