KARACHI: Rawalpindi have put one hand on the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy by ensuring a dominant position at the close of day four in the final against Islamabad, who need another 336 runs and have just five wickets in hand in their second innings at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.
Set a mammoth target of 435, Islamabad’s innings once again got off to a horrendous start as first-innings top-scorer Afaq Rahim was dismissed on naught followed by Ali Sarfaraz, leaving Islamabad struggling at 12 for two.
Zeeshan Ali (26) and Faizan Riaz (23) tried to rebuild the innings by trying to consolidate against hostile bowling, but their stay was also cut short. Both got out in quick succession, leaving Islamabad vulnerable at 66 for four.
With wickets falling from the other end, Islamabad skipper Imad Wasim started to assert some control and play shots, but his partners failed to stay at the crease for long.
Moed Ahmed (10) fell victim to a poor decision by Zameer Haider, who continues to make blunders at the domestic level but is still nominated for the International Cricket Council panel by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB).
The ball was nowhere near his bat, yet he was declared caught behind by the umpire. The decision left Ahmed stunned while Wasim was also left seething at the other end.
Islamabad ended the day at 99 for five from 32 overs with Wasim unbeaten on 29. Fast-bowlers Nasir Malik and Akhtar Ayub took two wickets apiece.
Earlier, Rawalpindi were all out for 398. Shoaib Nasir starred with a 177-run knock studded with two sixes and 27 boundaries while Junaid Nadir and Mudassar Ali picked up three scalps each.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 30th, 2014.