KARACHI: Holders Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) braced themselves for a long haul in the field after title aspirants Habib Bank Limited (HBL) dominated second day of the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy National Cricket Championship final here at the UBL Sports Complex on Wednesday.
After retired Pakistan slow left-armer Abdur Rehman had claimed three of the remaining four wickets SNGPL lost to be dismissed for a below-par total of 304 with their captain Misbah-ul-Haq missing out on a gutsy century, Test hopeful Abid Ali conveyed an emphatic message to the national selection committee, headed by Inzamam-ul-Haq, with a sublime knock of 92 that eventually propelled HBL to a commanding 170-1, trailing by a modest 134 on the first innings with three days still to go.
The diminutive Abid, 31, has been in terrific form in the current season for Pakistan ‘A’ side in the recent series of matches against New Zealand ‘A’ and England Lions in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where he reached three figures in two of the Unofficial Tests in Abu Dhabi as well as scoring a brace of half-centuries and another knock of 140 in a one-dayer versus the Lions.
Upcoming all-rounder Agha Salman also merits a deserved mention as the 25-year-old reached 50 — off 172 balls with six fours — just before stumps in the unfinished partnership of 143 with the well-set Abid, who have already left a lasting impression on the national selector Tauseef Ahmed, the former Pakistan off-spinner who was not only present here on the first two days of the title-decider but also acted as the Pakistan ‘A’ team manager during the series against New Zealand ‘A’.
With veteran opener Mohammad Hafeez announcing his retirement from Test cricket on Tuesday following the ongoing series decider against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi, Abid is a frontrunner to make the squad for the upcoming tour of South Africa where Pakistan play three Tests upfront.
Misbah falls nine short of a landmark century
The right-hander took advantage of an excellent pitch that appears to be full of runs as he has crunched 12 boundaries during his 191-ball innings in a span of 275 minutes against a SNGPL bowling attack that lacked penetration to trouble either Abid or Salman during their near four-hour stand.
In fact, SNGPL were lucky to get the solitary wicket that HBL lost because an umpiring blunder from former first-class spinner Mohammad Asif, whose nomination for such a key fixture is shrouded in mystery in the light him being demoted the PCB’s elite panel of umpires in the past.
Jamal Anwar, the wicket-keeper/batsman who was shaping quite well on his way to a 28-ball 19, was aggrieved batsman to suffer because of Asif’s incompetency because the ball from ex-international Asad Ali was clearly heading down the leg side at the moment of impact. But Asif had already made up his mind to send Jamal on his way.
Like day one the inadequate security put in place led to the players of both sides feeling ‘unsafe’ particularly when they had to vacant the complex to board the waiting team buses after draw of stumps. The onus is on the PCB to overcome this glaring lapse for the remaining three days — if the final lasts that long — since it is their responsibility to provide watertight security.
Earlier in the first session, HBL were held up by the stubborn overnight partnership between Misbah and Mohammad Imran (40 off 88 balls, four fours) for another 57 minutes before both of them departed in successive overs, while ending a dogged 88-run stand .
Impressive paceman Khurram Shehzad was rewarded with the prized scalp of Misbah, who resumed on 72 in the overnight tally of 238-6. The former Pakistan captain was caught behind for 91 (184 balls, 11 fours and one six). Had he managed a century the 44-year-old stalwart would have undoubtedly become the oldest Pakistani to get the coveted feat — in surely his final fist-class appearance.
Rehman then got into the act to polish off the tail although Bilal Bhatti, who struck five fours in a breezy 31-ball unbeaten knock of 25, extended the SNGPL innings further in the last-wicket stand of 28 with Asad Ali (5).
Rehman finally ended up taking 4-90 in 40.2 overs while Khurram took 3-65 from 21 overs.
SNGPL (1st Innings, overnight 238-6):
Imran Butt lbw b Khurram 10
Ali Waqas b Faheem 38
Khurram Shehzad c Salman b Khurram 47
Iftikhar Ahmed c Salman b Rehman 10
Misbah-ul-Haq c Jamal b Khurram 91
Adnan Akmal c Ramiz b Salman 22
Imran Khalid b Salman 9
Mohammad Imran lbw b Rehman 40
Bilawal Bhatti not out 25
Azizullah lbw b Rehman 0
Asad Ali b Rehman 5
EXTRAS (LB-7) 7
TOTAL (all out, 110.2 overs) 304
FALL OF WKTS: 1-24, 2-65, 3-88, 4-118, 5-152, 6-186, 7-274, 8-274, 9-276.
BOWLING: Umar Gul 18-4-39-0; Faheem Ashraf 18-6-52-1; Abdur Rehman 40.2-12-90-4; Khurram Shehzad 21-8-65-3; Agha Salman 11-2-42-2; Saad Khan 2-0-9-0.
HABIB BANK (1st Innings):
Abid Ali not out 92
Jamal Anwar lbw b Asad 19
Agha Salman not out 50
EXTRAS (B-8, NB-1) 9
TOTAL (for one wkt, 65 overs) 170
FALL OF WKT: 1-27.
TO BAT: Umar Akmal, Imran Farhat, Saad Khan, Ramiz Aziz, Faheem Ashraf, Abdur Rehman, Umar Gul, Khurram Shehzad.
BOWLING (to-date): Asad Ali 11-8-17-1; Azizullah 12-3-27-0; Imran Khalid 15-2-46-0; Bilawal Bhatti 11-1-32-0; Mohammad Imran 4-1-10-0; Iftikhar Ahmed 12-2-30-0 (1nb).
Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2018