KARACHI: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) ended an eight-year itch as they outplayed Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) by nine wickets in the final to clinch the Faysal Bank Quaid-i-Azam Trophy National Cricket Championship Division I title at the National Stadium here on Friday.
Chasing 108, PIA romped to victory six minutes before the late afternoon lunch on the penultimate day of the five-day final of the country’s premier first-class tournament. Shaharyar Ghani had the honour of scoring the winning runs — an emphatic pull off part-timer Sharjeel Khan to the mid-wicket boundary.
Shaharyar remained unbeaten with a 34-ball 36, inclusive of seven fours, while fellow left-hander Agha Sabir atoned for his first-innings duck by contributing 40 off 65 balls with the aid of five hits to the fence. The partnership between the two of them realised 62.
Earlier, PIA captain Kamran Sajid had set the tone for a decisive outcome of what provided an anti-climax conclusion to a pulsating game which was within in the control of the Imran Nazir’s ZTBL side for the best part of the first three days.
But Kamran led from the front in the chase for the target and stroked eight boundaries in a breezy 29-ball 34 until TV umpire Shozab Raza was called in to signal the end of his innings by confirming that the ball had not bounced on the pitch as it scooped into the hands of Rehan Riaz.
PIA required just two deliveries to claim the remaining wicket after the shell-shocked ZTBL resumed their second innings at 70-9 when Anwar Ali had Rao Iftikhar edging a simple chance to Anop Ravi, who was substituting for Shoaib Khan, in the slips.
Anwar, later adjudicated as the Man-of-the-Match, ended up with 4-31 and match figures of eight for 86.
Kamran Sajid later paid tribute to his entire team of champions by saying it was a total teamwork that earned PIA, who last won the coveted championship in 2002-03 when the Moin Khan-led side defeated Khan Research Laboratories at the same venue, their seventh Quaid-i-Azam Trophy. Their other title-winning feats were achieved in 1969-70, 1979-80, 1987-88, 1989-90 and 1999-2000.
“It would be unfair on my part to single out any individual for the great achievement of our team. Everyone in the squad contributed towards the tremendous win,” a beaming Kamran told Dawn. “Our support staff did their job very proficiently throughout the season. I can’t praise them enough.”
Kamran further said his players were determined to make up for the huge disappoint of the previous season when Habib Bank upstaged PIA at the same venue to clinch the title in an acrimonious final.
“This time we made sure that the mistakes committed [in last season’s final] wouldn’t be repeated. The way we bounced back last evening [when ZTBL plummeted to 70-9 on Thursday] illustrated the self-belief we had. The lads were determined to erase the bitter memories of that final [against Habib Bank] and today we did just that.”
Imran Nazir, the ZTBL skipper, was dejected but admitted that PIA outplayed his side. “Of course we have no excuses to offer because PIA outplayed us. But still we should have put up a much better performance in the second innings. No doubt, they [PIA] bowled well but our batsmen should have shown more fight.”
Zakir Khan, PCB director domestic cricket operations, distributed the prizes as chief guest at a simple ceremony.
The victorious PIA receive a cash award of Rs1 million along with the trophy. ZTBL got Rs500,000 and the runners-up trophy. Among individual prizes — each worth Rs50,000 — Islamabad’s Afaq Raheem won the best batsman prize, Ali Imran Pasha of PIA was declared the tournament’s best bowler and the ZTBL duo of Zulqarnain Haider and Shahid Yousuf got the best wicket-keeper and best fielder awards, respectively.
ZTBL (1st Innings) 337 (Haris Sohail 112, Yasir Hameed 80, Zulqarnain Haider 36, Sharjeel Khan 24, Zohaib Khan 21; Anwar Ali 4-55, Kamran Sajid 2-56, Akhtar Waheed Kayani 2-113). PIA (1st Innings) 300 (Sarfraz Ahmed 70, Fahad Iqbal 61, Shoaib Khan 61, Shaharyar Ghani 29; Rao Iftikhar 4-78, Rehan Riaz 3-44, Sohail Tanvir 3-82). ZTBL (2nd Innings, overnight 70-9): Sharjeel Khan b Ali Imran 8 Imran Nazir c Fahad b Anwar 5 Yasir Hameed c Sarfraz b Anwar 19 Shahid Yousuf b Ali Imran 0 Haris Sohail c Sarfraz b Najaf 19 Zulqarnain Haider b Anwar 0 Zohaib Khan c sub (Anop Ravi) b Najaf 4 Sohail Tanvir b Najaf 0 Junaid Zia c Sarfraz b Ali Imran 3 Rao Iftikhar c sub (Anop Ravi) b Anwar 8 Rehan Riaz not out 0 EXTRAS (LB-4) 4 TOTAL (all out, 27.2 overs) 70 FALL OF WKTS: 1-12, 2-32, 3-32, 4-42, 5-46, 6-59, 7-59, 8-60, 9-70. BOWLING: Najaf Shah 9-3-19-3; Anwar Ali 8.2-1-31-4; Ali Imran Pasha 10-5-16-3. PIA (2nd Innings): Agha Sabir not out 40 Kamran Sajid c Rehan b Sohail 34 Shaharyar Ghani not out 36 EXTRAS TOTAL (for one wkt, 21.2 overs) 110 FALL OF WKT: 1-48. BOWLING: Rao Iftikhar 5-0-36-0; Sohail Tanvir 7-2-25-1; Rehan Riaz 5-0-16-0; Junaid Zia 3-0-21-0; Yasir Hameed 1-0-8-0; Sharjeel Khan 0.2-0-4-0. RESULT: PIA won by nine wickets. UMPIRES: Ahsan Raza and Zameer Haider. TV UMPIRE: Shozab Raza. MATCH REFEREE: Khateeb Rizwan. OFFICIAL SCORER: Mohammad Ahsan. MEDIA SCORER: Salman Hussain. MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Anwar Ali.