KARACHI: Habib Bank Limited (HBL) qualified for the final of the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy National Cricket Championship in somewhat tragic circumstances when their Super Eight match was abandoned as a draw after several United Bank Limited (UBL) players got injured in the hotel fire in the early hours of Monday.
The third day of the fixture at the NBP Sports Complex initially was called off for the day but the injuries to UBL all-rounder Yasim Murtaza and former Pakistan Under-19 leg-spinner Karamat Ali persuaded their team management to request the PCB to declare the match as a draw.
Nadeem Khan, the ex-Pakistan spinner who now heads the UBL sports department, told Dawn that the sombre mood that followed the fire which erupted at the hotel where 10 members of the squad were staying was the main reason for the decision not to play.
“The tragic events in the early hours of the day left the players shell-shocked. So how come one expect to play?” Nadeem said. “In the melee two of our players were injured when they had to jump from the floors where they were staying at the hotel in order to save their lives. Yasim fell heavily from second floor and fractured his right ankle, while Karamat got his arm cut from broken glass of the window.
“Some of the players even volunteered to rescue other guests. Sohaib Maqsood helped a couple some of them get to out of the danger. Later the players were evacuated to my house and the residence of [UBL captain] Shan Masood,” Nadeem added.
Former Test paceman and HBL head coach Kabir Khan offered his commiserations to the UBL team.
“What happened today was extremely sad. Some people died in the fire and scores were injured. From cricketing point of view, we would have felt very uneasy if we went ahead with the remainder of the match,” Kabir told Dawn. “UBL were in deep shock over the tragedy and it was not just them, we all felt for all the people and imagined how bad it must have been. In the end the right decision had been made not to play further.”
UBL were due to resume their first innings at 20-0 after HBL had reached 486 all out late on Sunday evening. As a result, Group-II winners HBL went through to the final with 16 points after both teams were awarded one each from the abandoned game.
Meanwhile, HBL will have to wait until Tuesday to find out who they would be playing in the day-night title-decider at the National Stadium after Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) put up a gallant fight to reach 298-7 in reply to Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda)’s total of 353 at the Niaz Stadium in Hyderabad.
With both teams locked at the top of Group-I with 19 points, it seems certain that side taking lead on the first innings will make the final with the ongoing fixture destined to end in a stalemate on day four.
Struggling at 127-4 at stumps on Sunday, SSGC) staged a superb comeback due to the bravery of Adil Amin, who hit up 90 from 224 balls with the aid of 10 boundaries, and Maqbool Ahmed (57 not out off 252 balls) who forged a sixth-wicket partnership of 109 after the in-form Asif Zakir had perished after adding just one to his overnight score of 41.
In the other two matches, which have no bearing on the final outcome, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) were in sight of a crushing victory in the day-night game at the National Stadium after reducing Karachi Whites to 63-5 in pursuit of a 393-run target.
Earlier, fast bowler Tabish Khan bagged match figures of 11-143 in front of national selectors Tauseef Ahmed and Wajahatullah Wasti by taking 4-66 in SNGPL’s second innings of 237 – a total that was based around a fifth-wicket stand of 102 between Abubakar Khan (55) and Khurram Shehzad (46).
Seamer Babar Rehman grabbed 5-51 in support of the praiseworthy Tabish while upcoming wicket-keeper Mohammad Hafeez excelled with 11 catches, including seven in the second innings.
National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), meanwhile, had advanced to a nervy 54-4 while chasing 142 against Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) at the UBL Sports Complex in the other Group-II game.
Earlier, paceman Atif Jabbar finished with 5-50 as KRL were dismissed for 184, giving him match bag of 10-93.
Close of play scores and result on Monday (day three of four):
Super Eight stage third and final round:
At Niaz Stadium, Hyderabad: WATER AND POWER DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY 353 in 137 overs (Kamran Akmal 144, Adnan Raees 57, Zulfiqar Babar 55, Waqas Maqsood 36; Zia-ul-Haq 3-61, Ahmed Jamal 2-33, Aamir Yamin 2-78); SUI SOUTHERN GAS COMPANY 298-7 in 132 overs (Adil Amin 90, Maqbool Ahmed 57 not out, Awais Zia 49, Asif Zakir 42, Mohammad Irfan 30 not out; Waqas Maqsood 3-61).
At National Stadium, Karachi (day-night): SUI NORTHERN GAS PIPELINES LIMITED 361 in 98.2 overs (Iftikhar Ahmed 181, Adnan Akmal 79, Khurram Shehzad 24, Abubakar Khan 22; Tabish Khan 7-77) and 237 in 62.4 overs (Abubakar Khan 55, Khurram Shehzad 46, Adnan Akmal 29; Babar Rehman 5-51, Tabish Khan 4-66); KARACHI WHITES 206 in 73.5 overs (Behram Khan 64, Faraz Ali 44, Hamza Ghanchi 23; Imran Ali 3-31, Mohammad Imran 2-57, Asad Ali 2-69, Mohammad Hafeez 1-46) and 63-5 in 20.5 overs (Behram Khan 28; Asad Ali 3-30).
At NBP Sports Complex, Karachi: Match abandoned as a draw – no play on Monday.
HABIB BANK LIMITED 486 in 183.4 overs (Imran Farhat 133, Imam-ul-Haq 129, Abdur Rehman 58 not out, Mohammad Waqas 49, Azeem Ghumman 28, Jamal Anwar 28; Mir Hamza 5-65, Mohammad Asghar 3-166, Yasim Murtaza 2-22); UNITED BANK LIMITED 20-0 in 6 overs.
At UBL Sports Complex, Karachi: KHAN RESEARCH LABORATORIES 244 in 84 overs (Usman Arshad 121, Mohammad Abbas 38, Luqman Butt 32, Shoaib Ahmed Minhas 20; Atif Jabbar 5-43, Mohammad Irfan 3-27) and 184 in 63.3 overs (Mohammad Yasin 56, Shoaib Ahmed Minhas 29, Nauman Ali 20; Atif Jabbar 5-50, Kamran Ghulam 2-40); NATIONAL BANK OF PAKISTAN 287 in 85.1 overs (Rameez Raja 102, Naved Sarwar 83, Qaiser Abbas 20; Ahmed Bashir 4-56, Mohammad Abbas 3-47, Nauman Ali 3-84) and 54-4 in 17.2 overs (Hamza Paracha 24; Mohammad Abbas 3-22).