KARACHI: Peshawar took a big step toward the Super Eight stage of the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy National Cricket Championship on Friday when they held all aces on day one of their Group ‘A’ fixture against Islamabad in the federal capital.

Winning the toss and fielding first is the general trend at the Diamond Club Ground but Islamabad skipper Zohaib Ahmed was probably left to rue his decision to bat as the hosts were dismissively bowled out in only 38 overs for 165 after starting the penultimate-round clash on a promising note.

Despite being two down or 17, Islamabad prospered through a 107-run partnership between opener Abid Ali (54) and Faizan Riaz (64) only to lose initiative in a dramatic collapse with last eight wickets falling for the addition of just 41 runs.

Left-arm speedster Taj Wali not only got rid of Abid and Faizan but went on to capture seven wickets for 50 runs in 15 overs, while Pakistan discard M. Imran Khan took 3-65.

Peshawar, currently fourth in the standings, then rounded up their excellent day by reaching 140 without loss from 24 overs when play ended. Ashfaq Ahmed struck 11 boundaries in an 83-ball 72, while Israrullah hit 55 off 64 balls.

Lahore Blues, who are two points behind Peshawar, also had a good day at the Abbottabad Cricket Stadium as bottom-placed Faisalabad mustered 184 all out in their first innings after Saeed Ajmal opted to bat first.

Former Pakistan paceman Aizaz Cheema grabbed figures of 6-56 in 18.5 overs to follow his 10-wicket haul against SNGPL in the previous round.

Lahore Blues closed at 88-2 in their response.

Group ‘A’ leaders Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) found the going rather tough at the Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad where they had reached 233-8 after Fawad Alam won the toss against defending champions Wapda. The skipper was the main run-getter with 63.

National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), battling to avoid being relegated, were on top for change when restricted former champions Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) for a modest 210 after acting skipper Mohammad Rizwan decided to bat first at the Jinnah Stadium in Sialkot.

Rizwan’s appeared spot on when Imran Butt was threatening to give his team a decent total but when the opener was out for 76, the rot set after SNGPL were 102-1.

Bilal Asif, the off-spinning all-rounder who was mysteriously overlooked during Pakistan’s ill-fated Test series against Sri Lanka recently, bagged for wickets for 33 runs before NBP safely negotiated 2.5 overs to reach 11-0 at stumps.

Karachi Whites’ bid to make the Super Eight phase suffered a setback when Fata posted a respectable 275 after home side skipper Mohammad Hasan elected to bowl first at the National Stadium.

Opener Mohammad Naeem batted solidly to score 70 off 128 balls in 200 minutes (seven fours), while Samiullah contributed 50 that featured eight boundaries.

The hosts obviously felt the absence of chief strike weapon Mohammad Sami, the ex-Pakistan fast bowler who is on national duty this week for the Hong Kong Sixes event at Kowloon. Adeel Malik picked up 4-60 in 21 overs.

Karachi Whites lost Mohtashim Ali via a run out before ending the day 21-1.

Skipper Hasan Raza, famously known as Test cricket’s youngest debut at the tender age of 14 years and 227 days when he played against Zimbabwe in 1996, was left stranded on 86 (120 balls, 11 fours and one six) as Pakistan Television (PTV) were all out for 174 against Habib Bank Limited (HBL) after opting to bat at the Multan Cricket Stadium in Multan.

Umar Gul, the Pakistan seamer, led by example as he returned his best figures this season by taking 5-43 in 14.3 overs.

HBL were 54-1 in their reply.

Group ‘B’ table-toppers United Bank Limited (UBL) were again on song as Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) managed a below-par 197 all out after the home team chose to bat first at the KRL Stadium in Rawalpindi.

UBL responded by making 61-0 in the 14 overs bowled before close of play.

Opener Naved Malik struck a rapid 50 off only 36 balls (10 fours) as Rawalpindi reached 65-0 after their decision to bowl first saw Lahore Whites collect 247 all out at the Mirpur Cricket Stadium in Mirpur. Abid Hasan (5-92 in 19 overs and his new-ball partner Saad Altaf (4-72) shared the wickets.

Close of play scores on Friday (day one of four):

Sixth round:

Group ‘A’:

At Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad: SSGC 233-8 in 68.3 overs (Fawad Alam 63, Asif Zakir 47, Adil Amin 30 not out, Awais Zia 27; Mohammad Asif 3-68, Waqas Maqsood 3-69) vs Wapda.

At Jinnah Stadium, Sialkot: SNGPL 210 in 72.3 overs (Imran Butt 76, Ali Waqas 35, Mohammad Rizwan 33; Bilal Asif 4-33, Mushtaq Ahmed 3-48); NBP 11-0 in 2.5 overs.

At Diamond Club Ground, Islamabad: ISLAMABAD 165 in 38 overs (Faizan Riaz 64, Abid Ali 54; Taj Wali 7-50, M. Imran Khan 3-65); PESHAWAR 140-0 in 24 overs (Ashfaq Ahmed 72 not out, Israrullah 55 not out).

At Abbottabad Cricket Stadium, Abbottabad: FAISALABAD 184 in 62.5 overs (Iftikhar Ahmed 52, Asif Ali 36, Ahmed Safi 33; Aizaz Cheema 6-56, Saif-ur-Rehman 4-57); LAHORE BLUES 88-2 in 22 overs (Waqas Saleem 21 not out).

Group ‘B’:

At National Stadium, Karachi: FATA 275 in 75.2 overs (Mohammad Naeem 70, Samiullah 50, Mukhtar Ahmed 45, Sohail Akhtar 28, Yasir Hameed 25; Adeel Malik 4-60, Azam Hussain 3-37, Abdullah Mukaddam 3-69); KARACHI WHITES 21-1 in 9 overs.

At Multan Cricket Stadium, Multan: PTV 174 in 54.3 overs (Hasan Raza 86 not out; Umar Gul 5-43, Ammad Butt 3-43); HBL 54-1 in 23 overs (Salman Afridi 25).

At KRL Stadium, Rawalpindi: KRL 197 in 65 overs (Abdul Rehman Muzammil 74 not out, Sardar Hasan Raza 45; Ehsan Adil 3-32, Mir Hamza 3-50, Sameen Gul 3-65); UBL 61 in 14 overs (Ammad Alam 34 not out, Umar Siddique 27 not out).

At Mirpur Cricket Stadium, Mirpur: LAHORE WHITES 247 in 52.1 overs (Mohammad Irfan 54, Usman Salahuddin 36, Mohammad Mohsin 35; Abid Hasan 5-92, Saad Altaf 4-72); RAWALPINDI 65-0 in 13 overs (Naved Malik 50 not out).

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2017

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