KARACHI: Pakistan great Younis Khan produced a classy innings to prevent United Bank Limited (UBL) from total collapse as National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) took the first day’s honours in the opening Super Eight fixture of the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy National Cricket Championship here on Monday.
Centuries from Haris Nazar and Agha Salman enabled Lahore Blues to reach 302-4 in their first innings against Wapda on a docile NBP Sports Complex pitch.
Karachi Whites, the only other regional outfit qualifying for the Super Eight round, collected 242-4 against Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) at the Niaz Stadium in Hyderabad, while title favourites Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) launched their campaign in style by dismissing Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) for a modest 208 here at the National Stadium.
UBL stuttered at the start after the returning NBP skipper Kamran Akmal opted to bowl first at the toss during which Younis was attired in the team’s official blazer — a novel idea of UBL sports chief and former Test spinner Nadeem Khan who has made it mandatory for whoever has captained the side in previous seven league-round matches to arrive for the toss in this manner.
Umair Khan (18) and Test opener Shan Masood (14) were taken behind by Kamran with 45 runs on the board. Shan had shaped up well until being undone by late movement generated by occasional seamer Akbar-ur-Rehman.
Umar Siddique and Younis then repaired the early damage in a fine partnership of 110 on either side of the lunch interval. The left-handed Umar was set for a big knock but on 60 he was lured into playing a rash stroke by spinner Mohammad Asghar, who bowled a purposeful spell from the Far End during which he claimed four wickets.
The slow left-armer had Umar, who hit 10 boundaries in his 124-ball innings, lobbing a simple catch to Qaiser Abbas at mid-on before dismissing Saeed bin Nasr (5) and Mohammad Wajihuddin (0) to have three wickets in 26 balls at that point.
After overcoming a tentative start, Younis settled down to play a number of pleasing strokes on both sides as the legendary right-hander struck 11 fours and a six, off Qaiser that bounced out of the ground after landing on the concrete step of the stand and was only retrieved after umpires Riazuddin and Irfan Dilshad called for a replacement ball.
When it seemed Younis will see out the remaining overs, NBP hit back to have their man trapped LBW for a well-played 193-ball 85 by Asghar as UBL went to stumps at 228-7.
Azhar Ali’s winning the toss proved decisive for SNGPL as KRL found themselves in trouble at 86-5 before Shoaib Ahmed Minhas (77 off 109 balls, 15 fours) and Nauman Ali (60 off 66, seven fours and three sixes) gave their side some respectability in a stand of 55.
Left-arm spinner Imran Khalid took 4-41 after seamer Asad Ali (3-39) had done the damage upfront.
SNGPL then faced 19 overs to make 38-1 with Test stars Mohammad Hafeez (12) and Azhar (16) at the crease.
Opener Jaahid Ali (76 off 177 balls, nine fours) and Saud Shakeel (56 not out from 149 balls, six fours) played the major innings for Karachi Whites after SSGC skipper Umar Amin decided to bowl first. Paceman Rajesh Ramesh, playing his first game since October 2014, has so far claimed 3-49 in 19 overs, including that of Karachi Whites captain Faisal Iqbal for 20.
Lahore Blues, opting to bat first against Wapda, made a grand recovery after being 36-3 as Haris (103 off 189 balls, 14 fours and one six) and Salman (an undefeated 113 off 211, 16 boundaries) added 160 before Raza Ali Dar (52) put on a further 106 for the ongoing fifth-wicket stand with Salman.
Close of play scores on Monday (day one of four):
At National Stadium, Karachi: KHAN RESEARCH LABORATORIES 208 in 60 overs (Shoaib Ahmed Minhas 77, Luqman Butt 60, Rahat Ali 26; Imran Khalid 4-41, Asad Ali 3-39, Bilawal Bhatti 2-42); SUI NORTHERN GAS PIPELINES LIMITED 38-1 in 19 overs (Azhar Ali 16 not out, Mohammad 12 not out).
At NBP Sports Complex, Karachi: LAHORE BLUES 302-4 in 90 overs (Agha Salman 113 not out, Haris Nazar 103, Raza Ali Dar 52 not out; Naseer Akram 3-72, Zulfiqar Babar 1-95) vs WATER AND POWER DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY.
At UBL Sports Complex, Karachi: UNITED BANK LIMITED 228-7 in 86 overs (Younis Khan 85, Umar Siddique 60; Mohammad Asghar 4-64) vs NATIONAL BANK OF PAKISTAN.
At Niaz Stadium, Hyderabad: KARACHI WHITES 242-4 in 86 overs (Jaahid Ali 74, Saud Shakeel 56 not out, Saad Ali 48, Faisal Iqbal 20, Shiraz Ali 17 not out; Rajesh Ramesh 3-49) vs SUI SOUTHERN GAS COMPANY.