KARACHI: Ahmad Shahzad and Imamul Haq struck half centuries as Habib Bank Limited (HBL) thrashed Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) by five wickets in the final to win the National One-day Cup for Departments at the National Stadium Karachi here Monday. It was their fifth victory in a row in the tournament.
HBL received Rs one million along with the winning trophy from Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Shaharyar Khan, while runners-up SSGC received cash award Rs.500,000. The final’s man of the match and tournament’s best batsman Shahzad won Rs.50,000 apiece with both his awards, while Fahim Ashraf and Kamran Ghulam also received Rs.50,000 each after being declared best bowler and all-rounder of the tournament.
Chasing a victory target of 233 in their allotted 50 overs, HBL raced to 235 for the loss of five wickets. Opener Imam scored 56 runs off 85 balls, building a 118-run partnership with Shahzad, who hammered 68 runs off 51 balls. For SSGC, spinner Muhammad Irfan took three wickets giving away 48 runs with Zafar Gohar taking 2-53. Earlier put in to bat first, SSGC lost their top batsman Awais Zia through Shahid Afridi run out and then two more with just 31 runs on the board. Shoaib Malik then took charge and scored 93 runs off 92 balls, along with Asif Zakir scoring 41 off 51 balls and Fawad Alam scored 22 off 30 runs to help SSGC post 232 for the loss 7 scalps in their allotted 50 overs. Malik’s innings included nine fours - but with wickets constantly falling at the other end, doubled with the sluggish start, Sui Southern could manage only modest score. HBL’s Zohaib Khan and Usman Khan Shinwari took two wickets, each giving away 22 and 56 runs respectively while Afridi and Fahim Ashraf took 1-42 and 1-48 runs respectively.
“All credit goes to the team,” Shahzad told media. “We were in the final of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and then showed our commitment in the one-day matches without any rest and played well as a team. Showing this level of performance with tired bodies must be appreciated,” he added. Shahzad was the standout performer with the bat in the tournament. He feels he has sent a message to the national selectors with his performance. “I have scored 665 runs in this tournament - I have been hitting the ball well, and whenever there is a call from the national side, I am fully ready for it,” he said. However, Shahzad added he was currently focusing on helping his departmental side do well. “What is even more important than personal form is winning the tournament,” said the talismanic skipper. “Previously I was unable to play for HBL due to my national commitments but this time around, with the support of head coach Kabir Khan, we managed to claim the title.”
Meanwhile, SSGC skipper Alam felt his side were a bit unlucky. “HBL had a great opening stand but even then we almost forced them to go the distance, with the match finishing in the 48th over,” he said. “We made a few small mistakes that cost us in the end.” Alam felt losing the toss was a big blow. “There is a reason why no team bats first after winning the toss here. It is because in the morning, the pitches have moisture and that makes it difficult to judge the ball. In the second half, it is easier for the batsman to score runs,” he said, urging the board help ensure that pitches act in a similar manner across the entirety of the match.