PPFL. - White Star/Stephan Andrew

KARACHI: Habib Bank Limited (HBL) sealed their berth in the final of the President’s Trophy Grade-I National Cricket Championship despite drawing their eighth-round fixture against already-qualified Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) at the Diamond Club Ground in Islamabad on Friday.

HBL, who earned three points for obtaining a first-innings 61-run lead over SNGPL, were already assured of reaching the final after their nearest rivals Pakistan International Airlines saw their hopes vanquished by Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) who completed a resounding seven-wicket victory over the national carrier side at the KRL Stadium in Rawalpindi.

Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), meanwhile, pulled off an exciting four-run win against State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) at the Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad after SBP’s last pair of Adnan Raees and Mohammad Naved survived long enough — 9.2 overs on Friday — to raise hopes of a sensational comeback by SBP.

With just one round of matches left at the preliminary phase of the competition, SNGPL still lead the standings with 54 points with HBL three points behind in second spot. PIA remain stationary in third place a further 18 points behind HBL.

The last day’s action was disrupted by bad weather as only 57.2 overs of play were possible in the HBL-SNGPL match.

SNGPL, who were 145-5 at stumps on Thursday, added 54 runs before being all out for 199 with talented fast bowler Ehsan Adil taking three wickets to finish with four for 44. In the process, the youngster, who until recently represented Pakistan Under-19, went past the 50-wicket mark in debut season of first-class cricket.

HBL, chasing 133, then lost half their side for 73 runs when the match prematurely ended with skipper Younis Khan (7) and Usman Salahuddin (2) at the crease after opener Imran Farhat had scored a 66-ball 44.

PIA, who had conceded a lead of 75 on the first innings, were all out for 194 after resuming at 116-4. Faisal Iqbal could add just two more runs to his Thursday’s tally of 42 before falling leg-before-wicket to paceman Rahat Ali.

Wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed tried his level best to help his team put up a good second-innings total but he was left stranded on a gutsy 53 when slow left-armer Nayyar Abbas bowled last man Aizaz Cheema for four.

Requiring 120, KRL romped home quite comfortably in 27.1 overs with Tayyab Riaz striking 10 boundaries in his 67-ball knock of 54. The result moved KRL into fourth place with 30 points.

Wapda’s in-form spinner Zulfiqar Babar captured the all-important final wicket against SBP to end with superb figures of seven for 74. His victim was the well-set batsman Adnan Raees who was caught behind by Kaleem Ahmed for a 90-ball 46. The stubborn last-wicket partnership between Adnan and Naved realized 33 runs after the bankers began the final day at 127-9 in pursuit of a 165-run chase.

Zulfiqar, the 33-year-old slow left-armer from Okara, is the leading wicket-taker in the President’s Trophy with a rich haul of 56 victims in eight matches.

In the games finishing on Thursday, National Bank of Pakistan whipped United Bank Limited by an innings and 49 runs at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi, while Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited crushed Port Qasim Authority by nine wickets at the Marghazar Cricket Ground in Islamabad.

Scores and results on Friday (final day of four):

At Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad: Water and Power Development Authority beat State Bank of Pakistan by four runs.

WATER AND POWER DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY 202 in 76.4 overs (Sohaib Maqsood 51, Aamir Sajjad 34, Sarfraz Ahmed 34; Adnan Rasool 3-48, Rizwan Haider 3-52, Hasan Mahmood 2-31, Kashif Siddique 2-49) and 118 in 57.5 overs (Mohammad Ayub Dogar 32 not out; Adnan Rasool 5-60, Hasan Mahmood 4-31); STATE BANK OF PAKISTAN 156 in 66.3 overs (Adnan Raees 39, Kashif Siddique 35, Mohammad Saad 35; Junaid Khan 4-54, Azhar Attari 3-27, Zulfiqar Babar 2-48) and 160 in 50.2 overs (Adnan Raees 46; Zulfiqar Babar 7-74, Sarfraz Ahmed 2-20).

At KRL Stadium, Rawalpindi: Khan Research Laboratories beat Pakistan International Airlines by seven wickets. PAKISTAN INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES 268 in 83 overs (Tahir Khan 57 not out, Anwar Ali 49, Agha Sabir 48, Sarfraz Ahmed 34; Rahat Ali 4-69, Ali Khan 3-40, Nayyar Abbas 3-78) and 194 in 65.3 overs (Sarfraz Ahmed 53 not out, Faisal Iqbal 44; Yasir Ali 3-34, Ali Khan 3-41, Nayyar Abbas 2-28); KHAN RESEARCH LABORATORIES 343 in 100.5 overs (Shoaib Ahmed Minhas 177, Saeed Anwar Jr 53, Nayyar Abbas 38; Aizaz Cheema 3-83, Najaf Shah 2-56, Anwar Ali 2-75, Tahir Khan 2-91) and 123-3 in 27.1 overs (Tayyab Riaz 54; Aizaz Cheema 2-23).

At Diamond Club Ground, Islamabad: Match drawn. SUI NORTHERN GAS PIPELINES LIMITED 232 in 68.5 overs (Azhar Ali 56, Ali Waqas 44, Mohammad Rizwan 31; Abdul Ameer 3-57, Aslam Qureshi 3-63, Ehsan Adil 2-37, Umar Gul 2-54) and 199 in 73.4 overs (Azeem Ghumman 53; Ehsan Adil 4-44, Abdul Ameer 3-55, Aslam Qureshi 2-37); HABIB BANK LIMITED 293 in 72 overs (Ahmed Shehzad 94, Imran Farhat 70, Shan Masood 56; Zahoor Khan 4-51, Imran Khalid 3-34, Asad Ali 2-100) and 73-5 in 36 overs (Imran Farhat 44; Imran Khalid 2-6).


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