SNGPL claw back with late strikes to leave Wapda battling for lead

KARACHI: Two late strikes by Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) undone what would have been undoubtedly Wapda’s day of dominance in the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy National Cricket Championship final at the National Stadium here on Friday.At draw of stumps on day two of the five-day clash, Wapda were breathing uneasily at 171-5 in response to SNGPL’s total of 259 with ex-Pakistan star Kamran Akmal holding the key to real difference in terms of first innings advantage.With Adnan Raees and Aamir Sajjad forging a defining partnership of 74, Wapda were gradually heading into a position of strength until two unplayable deliveries in the space of six minutes suddenly saw SNGPL sharing the honours on a day of glorious sunshine and blue skies.Tall left-armer Samiullah Khan Niazi, a seasoned exponent of seam bowling, delivered peach of a ball that rattled Adnan’s stumps to send the left-hander on his way for a well-constructed knock of 65.And then — without any addition to the total — it was Test seamer Mohammad Abbas’ turn to clean up a well-set Aamir Sajjad with one that just hustled through to crash into the set of timbers to leave Wapda wobbling at 162-5.
Wahab Riaz, who is unlikely to be recalled in the national limited-overs squad for the upcoming New Zealand tour, said the pitch is just about perfect for a title-decider while adding Wapda need to take lead to put SNGPL pressure in the second innings.“I think the game is delicately poised at the moment after we lost Adnan and Aamir in the closing overs. Had both of them not been dismissed, Wapda would definitely have the advantage going into third day,” the Pakistan speedster told Dawn. “But having said that I still believe we are capable of taking lead since Kamran [Akmal] is still at the crease. The rest of us have to bat around him come Saturday.
“There is nothing in the surface to suggest that it would help either side in taking control. I have played about five matches in the championship on tracks heavily helping pace bowlers but this one is just ideal for a five-day match. So one has got to work hard to wickets in a cluster,” the left-armer added, while referring to Thursday’s opening day at the roofless stadium when two wickets fell in each of the three sessions.
The second day was different because it was halved into two lengthy sessions to accommodate Friday’s prayers. The extended three-hour morning action saw SNGPL bat for another 89 minutes during which they added only 43 runs while losing the remaining four wickets.
Among those dismissed was Iftikhar Ahmed, who could just two runs, for 73 before providing left-arm paceman Waqas Maqsood with a thoroughly deserved second wicket. Waqas later added the scalp of Azizullah (17) to finish with impressive figures of 3-51 in 28 testing overs.Wahab took care of last man Abbas for a duck to end up with 4-61 from 24 overs with Mohammad Asif taking 2-42 in 23 overs.Wapda began their reply fortuitously when Salman Butt was reprieved by a no-ball adjudication from TV umpire Ahmed Shahab when replays confirmed Samiullah had clearly overstepped as Salman edged a sharp catch to Azhar Ali at first slip. Had it been a fair delivery, Wapda would have been one wicket down for no run.But the Wapda captain was unhappy to be adjudged leg-before-wicket for a painstaking 24 to the same bowler after the interval after opening his account on the 25th ball he faced. Salman of one of three wickets to fall in that manner after his opening partner Zahid Mansoor (11) had gone earlier to Azizullah.
Mohammad Saad (16) was the other batsman to be trapped in front of the stumps when Abbas darted one back sharply into the right-hander.But Adnan and Aamir weathered the early storm methodically to restore parity during their 114-minute stand until SNGPL clawed back into contention.Adnan batted for 202 minutes and struck 10 boundaries during his 127-ball knock, while Aamir’s 72-ball innings of 35 contained five fours in a stay of exactly two hours.

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