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Faisalabad march ahead with second big win

Faisalabad march ahead with second big win

KARACHI: Faisalabad may have been demoted from playing first-class cricket next season but their ominous form in the Cool & Cool National T20 Cup continued on Monday when they brushed aside Lahore Blues with nonchalant ease.

Meanwhile, in the battle of the Whites, Lahore upstaged Karachi in a gripping encounter by three wickets under lights at the Pindi Cricket Stadium to leave Sarfraz Ahmed’s men still searching for their first victory.

Saeed Ajmal — the Faisalabad skipper who is set to retire from competitive cricket at the ongoing tournament in Rawalpindi — led by example while guiding his charges to a second emphatic win on the trot.

Faced with a relatively daunting target of 188, Faisalabad were simply clinical in the run-chase, which was spearheaded by Pakistan discard Sohaib Maqsood who rediscovered his touch in a majestic 42-ball innings of 80 to complete Lahore Blues’ rout with 11 deliveries to spare.

The 30-year-old right-hander, who hasn’t played at the international level since the tour of New Zealand in early January, hoisted seven sixes — the last of which brought the proceedings to an end — and three fours as Faisalabad reached 193-3.

The Faisalabad batsmen plundered a mind-boggling 119 in 49 balls after they had collected 74 at the halfway point of their innings.

Sohaib took his time to get his eye in while allowing rising opener Sahibzada Farhan to go after a bowling attack that sorely missed Mohammad Amir, who took a sickening blow on his right shin during Blues’ thrilling one-run triumph against Lahore Whites on Saturday evening.

Farhan couldn’t have hoped for a better opportunity to celebrate his inclusion in the Islamabad United squad for next year’s Pakistan Super League as the 21-year-old opener scored his second straight half-century. This time he made 58 off 44 balls (seven fours and one six) while adding 98 in 64 balls with Sohaib. He was outthought by Lahore Blues skipper Mohammad Hafeez who drew the opener out of the crease with a wide delivery, leaving Adnan Akmal with an easy stumping.

Asif Ali, another Islamabad United man, then literally put the match beyond Blues’ reach with a swashbuckling 17-ball cameo of 42 that included three sixes and five fours as he helped man-of-the-match Sohaib put on 76 in just 30 balls.

Earlier, Lahore Blues posted 187-5 after being put in by Ajmal, who remarkably was involved in all five dismissals. He took the wickets of the out-of-sorts Ahmed Shehzad (12), Hussain Talat (43 off 26 balls, five fours and two sixes) and Babar Azam (45 off 37, three fours and one six). He ran out Hafeez for 18 with a direct hit and held a catch off Asad Ali to get rid of Imam-ul-Haq (50 off 31, six fours and one six).

Imam and Babar shared a second-wicket partnership of 70 in 48 balls. Ajmal finished with an excellent analysis of 3-24 in four overs, but the seamers from both sides took a beating. Asad took 1-48 in his three overs while Aizaz Cheema (0-49 in 3 overs) and Atif Jabbar (0-38 in 3) had a forgetful afternoon.

Kamran Akmal bludgeoned six fours and three sixes in making 52 off 34 balls to set up Lahore Whites’ a rather scrappy victory. Chasing 164, Lahore made a rollicking start as Kamran and Sami Aslam (56 off 38, four fours and two sixes) combined in a brilliant opening stand of 93 in 57 balls.

But Karachi bounced back to infuse late drama when three wickets fell in as many deliveries in the 16th over bowled by Anwar Ali, who sent back Raza Ali Dar (15) and Umaid Asif (0), the latter to an acrobatic low catch at mid-off by substitute fielder Danish Aziz. In between those wickets, Haris Sohail ran out Bilal Asif with one stump to aim at from the side vision.

At that point Lahore got nervous since their skipper Salman Butt was unable to bat following a hand injury while taking Akbar-ur-Rehman’s catch in the first half of the match.

Umaid was the outstanding bowler of the day with brilliant figures of 3-18 in his four-over spell to curtail Karachi Whites to 163-8 after Salman opted to bowl first at the toss.

Barring Khurram Manzoor, who made a 43-ball 64 — the opener’s second 50-plus score in-a-row — with the aid of eight fours and two sixes and Sarfraz’s 26-ball 39 (three fours and one six), it was largely a disappointing effort from the Karachi team, as the innings lacked a worthy partnership.

Monday’s results:

Lahore Whites beat Karachi Whites by three wickets.

KARACHI WHITES 163-8 in 20 overs (Khurram Manzoor 64, Sarfraz Ahmed 39, Akbar-ur-Rehman 23; Umaid Asif 3-18); LAHORE WHITES 167-7 in 19.4 overs (Sami Aslam 56, Kamran Akmal 52; Zulfiqar Babar 2-18, Rumman Raees Khan 2-27, Anwar Ali 2-32).

Faisalabad beat Lahore Blues by seven wickets.

LAHORE BLUES 187-5 in 20 overs (Imam-ul-Haq 50, Babar Azam 45, Hussain Talat 43; Saeed Ajmal 3-26); FAISALABAD 193-3 in 18.1 overs (Sohaib Maqsood 80 not out, Sahibzada Farhan 58, Asif Ali 42).

Tuesday’s fixtures: Rawalpindi vs Peshawar (12:00 noon) and Islamabad vs Fata (4:00pm).

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2017

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