KARACHI: In an effort to create a winning chance for themselves the batsmen of Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) batted aggressively in the final of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy against Habib Bank Limited (HBL) here at UBL Sports Complex on Friday.
On the penultimate day of the country’s first-class event decider, SNGPL rode on the heroics of Imran Butt (95), Ali Waqas (65) and Iftikhar Ahmed (52) to reach 336-5 in their second innings at stumps after conceding 168 runs lead.
SNGPL now are 168 runs ahead with five wickets in hand. They will have to set a target for HBL and then bowl them out on the last day on Saturday.If the game ends in a draw, HBL will be the winners on the basis of their first innings lead.
Running against time, highly talented young opener Imran Butt (95) and experienced Ali Waqas (65) provided a 170-run brisk start to SNGPL.Spinner Agha Salman provided the breakthrough to former champions HBL when he had Waqas caught at slip. The left-hander tried to cut the ball, which was pitched on the off-stump, but ended up giving a catch to substitute fielder Mohammad Waqas who did a good job.
Waqas smashed six fours in his 136-ball effort.In the next over, former Test spinner Abdul Rehman bowled well-set Imran who went for a slog sweep. This left SNGPL at 174-2.
Imran, who hit some delightful strokes towards all corners of the ground, hammered 13 fours in his 125-ball knock.Khurram Shehzad (40) and Test wicket-keeper Adnan Akmal (17) tried to score some quick runs. But lanky Test pacer Umar Gul got the precious wicket of Akmal, who is playing the match as a batsman. He managed one four from 26 deliveries.
Test cricketer Iftikhar Ahmed and Khurram added 60 in a short time for the fourth wicket before the latter fell prey to Abdul Rehman. SNGPL were 269-4 when Khurram departed. The 36-year-old Faisalabad-born batsman clobbered three fours in his 48-ball knock.
Imran Khalid and Iftikhar tried to plunder runs before the latter lost his wicket, having scored 52 off just 42 balls. Iftikhar, who has played one Test for Pakistan in England, wanted to hit a delivery from Abdul Rehman over mid-wicket but did not get the elevation and ended up giving an easy catch to Saad Khan.
Iftikhar hammered one six and four fours in his rapid knock. Imran Khalid also used long handle and was at the crease on 41 which came off just 31 balls. He hit two sixes and one four. With him at the other end was skipper Misbah-ul-Haq on 14. Misbah had hit one four from 11 deliveries. Rehman was the pick of the bowlers with 3-123 in 32 overs. Umar Gul (1-67) and Agha Salman (1-53) were the other successful bowlers.
Earlier, in response to SNGPL’s first innings total of 304, HBL resumed their innings at 349-8 and lost their last two wickets after adding 23 runs to their total. Left-handed batsman Rameez Aziz, who was batting on 40 on Thursday, remained not out on 58. Rameez smashed four fours in his 136-ball innings.
Fast bowler Asad Ali (2-65) and left-arm spinner Imran Khalid (2-125) got two wickets each. Faisal Afridi and Mohammad Asif are supervising the match while Shahid Butt is acting as match referee.