Azhar Ali’s 117 off 133 helped Balochistan Warriors claim a narrow eight-run win over Sindh Knights in the Haier Pentangular Cup at the National Stadium of Karachi as the skipper made one final attempt to make it into the final 15-man World Cup as the third opener.
Azhar found precious little support from fellow batsmen as only three Warriors reached double figures, with Sohail Khan claiming 6-46 to also force the selectors to take notice. Sami Aslam, with 48, and Sohaib Maqsood, with 33, were the next two highest scorers.
Knights stuttered in reply, with Rahat Ali dismissing openers Khalid Latif and Fazal Subhan early on at 39-2. However, Faisal Iqbal and Asad Shafiq consolidated and then upped the ante later on in their century stand.
But Rahat came back soon after to dismiss Iqbal on 50 to set up a nervy finale to the match. The chase looked increasingly unlikely when Fawad Alam was dismissed after Shafiq called for a suicidal single, to leave Knights needing 78 in the final 10 overs.
The Knights were never able to accelerate and when Shafiq was dismissed for a 100 the chase was as good as over. Anwar tried to make a game of it with a run-a-ball 24 but was dismissed in the final over by Ziaul Haq. Rahat Ali’s 4-50 and Zia’s 3-31 capped off a good outing for the Warriors, with their skipper winning the man of the match award.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2015.