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Openers Fakhar, Imam lift HBL to commanding 264-0

Openers Fakhar, Imam lift HBL to commanding 264-0

KARACHI: Habib Bank Limited (HBL) rode on excellent centuries from Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq, who shared an unbroken double-century partnership, to build on a fine bowling comeback while dominating the third day of the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy National Cricket Championship final against Wapda here on Tuesday.

After taking the remaining five wickets that Wapda lost for the addition of just 34 runs when play resumed following Monday’s rest day, openers Fakhar and Imam not only wiped off the marginal 42-run lead on the first innings held by the opponents, the left-handed opening pair lifted HBL to commanding 264-0 in the second innings.

Fakhar led the HBL charge with a stroke-laden innings of 157, which includes a series of breathtaking drives and cuts as the 26-year-old from Mardan struck 19 boundaries during his 216-ball stay.




Fellow left-hander Imam played the role of sheet-anchor admirably by not trying to match his more flamboyant partner in their 269-minute association at the crease. By close of the 20-year-old bespectacled nephew of former Pakistan skipper and current chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq had accumulated 105 with his 224-ball effort featuring 10 fours.

Salman Butt even himself was pressed into action with a rare over of occasional off-spinner as the Wapda skipper utilized no less than eight bowlers in a desperate bid to dislodge the either of the openers who now share HBL’s best-ever first-wicket partnership by a considerable distance. The previous highest in the bank’s history was provided by Asadullah Butt and Mujahid Jamshed who together added 252 versus Sargodha at the Sports Stadium in 1999-00 season.

With two days still to go, HBL definitely have the luxury of converting a current lead of 222 to one of mammoth proportion on a National Stadium which is just too good for batting, and if the target gets into the 400-plus then Wapda could find the going a tricky one with the double pressure of batting fourth and a first-ever Quaid Trophy title playing on their mind from now onwards.

The immediate problems confronting Salman Butt’s men are the injuries suffered by their overnight pairing of Kamran Akmal and Khalid Usman early in the afternoon on day three.

Kamran, who began the day on 27, was forced to retire on 35 with a back strain when he attempted against pull against HBL skipper Abdur Rehman left him in real agony.

Feeling uncomfortable despite getting a boundary off jittery drive off Rehman, Kamran chose to come off the field a couple of overs later with Wapda having advanced to 253-5. The wicket-keeper/batsman’s departure at that stage opened the doors for HBL to wrest control for the rest of the day.

Rehman, appropriately enough, led HBL’s second resurgence of this final. After making 53 on day to help his team made a miraculous recovery from 21-6 to 236 all out, Rehman emerged as the most successful wicket-taker with fine analysis of 3-66 from 35.3 overs of perseverance.

Pace-bowling all-rounder Fahim Ashraf also made his presence felt in no uncertain terms while narrowly missing out a hat-trick. Waqas Maqsood fended a catch to wicket-keeper Jamal Anwar off a well-directed bouncer.

The decisive blow came off the very next delivery when the returning Kamran tried a fickle but only managed to tickle a leg-side catch to Jamal.

Wapda’s miseries were further compounded by a painful injury to the overnight batsman Khalid Usman, who was struck on his left shoulder by a quick bouncer from left-arm speedster Usman Khan Shinwari, prevented him taking the field at all on Wednesday.

Khalid would have certainly made a huge difference with his left-arm spinners – that fetched wickets of Fahim Ashraf and Amad Butt on Saturday’s opening day – because the experienced Zulfiqar Babar was once again a big disappointment in the second innings.

The Pakistan Test slow left-armer, who is still yet to bag his first wicket in the title-decider after 31 overs over both innings thus far, must have cursed his luck when Mohammad Saad, who was pressed into services as a stopgap wicket-keeper, missed a simple chance to stump the well-set Fakhar late in the evening.

In fact, Saad was the second wicket-keeper that Wapda had to use while Kamran recuperated in the dressing-room because the makeshift Zahid Mansoor was needed by his captain to bowl off-spin. It is unlikely that the regular wicket-keeper would be returning soon enough on day four to take up his position behind the stumps.

Wapda were further depleted when seam ace Mohammad Asif was reported to have vomitted and followed team-mate Khalid Usman with a visit to the hospital for treatment. Asif, the most successful wicket-taker (4-29 on Saturday) in the match thus far, was curtailed to only seven overs on Tuesday.

The body-language also narrated contrasting tales from the two teams. While the HBL camp cheered lustily throughout the day, Wapda quite visibly got quieter as the overs went by. As result the momentum has dramatically tilted in favour of HBL at this point in time.

Scoreboard

HABIB BANK (1st innings) 236 (Rameez Aziz 90, Abdur Rehman 53, Fahim Ashraf 44; Mohammad Asif 4-29, Mohammad Irfan 3-34, Khalid Usman 2-40).

WAPDA (1st Innings, overnight 244-5):

Adnan Raees c Imran b Usman50

Salman Butt run out125

Mohammad Saad run out5

Aamir Sajjad c Jamal b Rameez14

Kamran Akmal c Jamal b Fahim35

Zahid Mansoor b Amad4

Khalid Usman not out14

Zulfiqar Babar lbw b Rehman9

Waqas Maqsood c Jamal b Fahim6

Mohammad Asif c Shehzad b Rehman1

Mohammad Irfan c Shehzad b Rehman0

EXTRAS (LB-4, W-2, NB-9)15

TOTAL (all out, 106.3 overs)278

FALL OF WKTS: 1-162, 2-176, 3-203, 4-205, 5-232, 6-269, 7-276, 8-276, 9-278.

BOWLING: Fahim Ashraf 19-3-58-2 (5nb, 1w); Usman Khan Shinwari 24-7-67-1 (2nb); Abdur Rehman 35.3-6-66-3; Amad Butt

16-4-47-1 (2nb); Rameez Aziz 11-2-30-1 (1w); Imam-ul-Haq 1-0-6-0.

HABIB BANK (2nd Innings):

Imam-ul-Haq not out105

Fakhar Zaman not out157

EXTRAS (LB-1, NB-1)2

TOTAL (for no wkt, 73 overs)264

BOWLING (to-date): Mohammad Asif

7-1-27-0; Waqas Maqsood 14-1-65-0 (1nb); Mohammad Irfan 10-2-35-0; Zulfiqar Babar

19-2-53-0; Zahid Mansoor 18-1-68-0; Adnan Raees 2-0-7-0; Aamir Sajjad 2-0-5-0; Salman Butt 1-0-4-0.

Published in Dawn December 14th, 2016

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