National Bank fold for 44 (forty-four!)
Perhaps no pitch truly is a 44 all out pitch, but if ever there was an exception, it would be had on the domestic circuit in Pakistan’s premier first-class competition (simply writing that is becoming embarrassing). In Faisalabad, A Shan Masood-led National Bank fell for 44 in under 18 overs against SNGPL – led by Misbah-ul-Haq still – bringing the nature of the pitches into sharp focus once more. Unkempt grounds, squalid dressing rooms and poorly prepared pitches have all been in evidence over the first few weeks of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy as the gulf between international and first-class cricket continues to widen.
150 was crossed in all of the other three innings, with the match effectively decided when SNGPL opened up with 265 first up, thanks to a number of stellar contributions including a half-century from Adnan Akmal. Form continues to elude Misbah, however, whose scores of 2 and 7 mean he has mustered just 31 runs in four innings this season.
The Lahore regions clinch thrillers
After eight matches among them, neither Lahore side, the Whites or the Blues, had manged to scrape a win between them. But in their fifth match each, both got their campaigns off the ground, and in dramatic fashion too. Lahore Whites clinched a thrilling one-wicket win, with the No. 11 Bilal Anwar striking the winning boundary as they chased 184 against Peshawar. He was the hero in more ways than one, also taking five wickets in Peshawar’s second innings. The game had been evenly poised almost throughout, with Peshawar taking a slender 24-run lead in the first innings.
Lahore Blues’ victory was similarly dramatic as they staved off an impressive Multan fightback to defend what had initially seemed like an insurmountable 263-run target. Usman Liaqat‘s 86 took Multan to 241, but a five-wicket haul from the former Pakistan fast bowler Aizaz Cheema ensured Lahore Blues’ winless run wouldn’t extend as they put their first points on the board.
Mohammad Asif? Consistency?
When Mohammad Asif took five wickets in an innings in the previous round, it could be discounted as one of those spells he bowls once every so often, yet not nearly often enough to be taken seriously. Who knew, though, that the boy could follow it up with another five-for, this time against ZTBL. Seven wickets in the match – just like in his last game – from Asif helped WAPDA cruise to a nine-wicket victory, their fourth win in five matches. What’s more, he even scored 34 in the first innings; he had a highest score in international cricket of 29. The comparisons with Glenn McGrath were more multi-facteded than you’d appreciate at first thought.
While we’re on the subject of wagging tails, though, it would be discourteous not to mention his teammate Ehsan Adil‘s flourish. No allrounder himself, he smashed an unbeaten 85 in WAPDA’s first innings, 37 more than he has managed over eight international innings.