As many as four individual hundreds marked the `battle of the minnows' as Islamabad Leopards defeated Abbottabad Rhinos by a convincing six-wicket margin, in the opening round of the National One-day Cup Cricket Championship at Islamabad on Wednesday.
Islamabad put Abbottabad in after winning the toss and the latter rattled a score of 325 for four in their 50 overs. Islamabad also lost four wickets but they reached the target in 48.3 overs. Abbottabad's Azhar Ali took only 97 balls for his 102 while Sajid Shah, basically a fast-medium new-ball bowler, hit 114 off 118 balls with four fours and four sixes before `retiring' himself out.
The top-scorer of the match was Bilal Asad of Islamabad, who remained not out with a quick 140 that came off 129 balls and included 14 fours. He shared an unbroken 195-run stand in only 28 overs with Ameer Khan, who slammed 111.
Faisalabad Wolves beat Peshawar Panthers easily by six wickets, at the Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad on Wednesday. Misbah-ul-Haq won the toss and put the Panthers in and were restricted to a modest score of 208 for 8 in their allotted 50 overs. Faisalabad reached 209 for 4 and won with 5.2 overs to spare. Former Pakistan player Mohammad Hafeez turned in a splendid allround performance for the Wolves, first bowling his 10 overs for an economical return of 1 for 26 and then hitting a run-a-ball 58 while opening the batting.
Peshawar were off to a 95-run start in 21 overs. The first four wickets fell with only 27 runs added before Akhtar Sarfraz contributed an exact 50 off 57 deliveries with a four and two sixes to lift the Panthers' morale.
Hyderabad Hawks conjured up a big 127-run win over the Quetta Bears at Mirpur Khas on Wednesday. Thanks to a 96-ball hundred (107) by Shahid Qambrani, their in-form middle-order batsman, that included 11 fours and three sixes, the Hawks ran up a score of 298 for 9 in their 50 overs. Then, they had the Bears dismissed for 171 runs in 40.5 overs.
Lal Kumar, the left-arm fast bowler, captured three wickets for 27 runs in 6.5 overs for Hyderabad while Hanif-ur-Rehman took 2 for 33 in nine overs with his offbreaks. The Bears lost six wickets with only 98 runs on the board, in the 26th over, before the latter order boosted the score a bit.
Earlier, Shahid was involved in a 73 runs stand for the fourth wicket with Hanif-ur-Rehman, who hit 66 runs off 73 balls with four fours and two sixes. Later, Shahid dominated the fifth-wicket partnership of 108 with wicket-keeper Zafar Ali. Quetta's import from Lahore, new-ball bowler Ali Imran Pasha, did himself proud with figures of five for 68 runs in his 10 overs.
Defending champions Lahore Lions began their campaign in style, as they defeated Karachi Dolphins by seven wickets at Lahore on Wednesday.
The Lions saw Nasir Jamshed, their 16-year-old left-handed batsman hit a brilliant 117 for them, that came off 114 balls and included 13 fours and a six. He was a part of Pakistan's victorious Under-19 team in the World Cup recently. After having been asked to bat first, the Dolphins were bowled out for 218 in 46.2 overs. The Lions chased the score with as many as seven overs to spare.
The Dolphins appeared to have been doing well in the 29th over, with a score of 144 for two. Left-handed opener Agha Sabir had begun with 72 runs off 85 balls with seven fours and a six. The last seven Karachi wickets, however, added only a further 74 runs. Taufeeq Umar was dismissed first-ball when the Lions batted but there was smooth sailing from there onwards.
Naved Ashraf hit a sparkling unbeaten 119 as Rawalpindi Rams attained an impressive eight-wicket victoryover Karachi Zebras, at Rawalpindi. The Zebras, who were put in to bat first, apparently compiled a reasonably big score of 271 for 7 in their allotted 50 overs. The Rams chased the target in only 46.5 overs.
Naved's partner, youngster Usman Saeed, finished just short of his own hundred as he scored an unbeaten 93, off 121 balls with seven boundaries. The unbroken third-wicket stand between the two yielded 217 runs in under 35 overs.
Earlier, the Zebras were well served by a 181-run partnership for the second wicket. Both Shadab Kabir and Naumanullah, however, missed their individual hundreds. The left-handed Shadab was dismissed at 99, while Naumanullah made 90.
After having won the Twenty20 Cup last week, Sialkot Stallions were visibly depleted by the absence of their stars called up for national duty, as they started the National One-day Championship with a defeat by Lahore Eagles by two wickets at the Sheikhupura Stadium on Wednesday.
After having won the toss, Sialkot opted to bat first but were all out for 164 in 47.1 overs. In reply, Lahore reached the target in 41.2 overs. Lahore's victory was set up by the left-handed Kamran Sajid, later declared Man of the Match, who scored an unbeaten 68 off 100 balls with four fours.
Bilal Hussain, the off spinner, captured four wickets for 16 runs in 7.2 overs after pace bowler Nadeem Javed had taken 2 for 22 in five. In the Sialkot innings, medium-pacer Arsalan Mir got 3 for 34 off seven overs while off spinner Usman Malik bowled all his 10 for a return of 3 for 31. The only innings of substance for the Stallions was Shahzad Malik's unbeaten 55.