KARACHI: A pair of wickets late in the day that broke an ominous fifth wicket partnership for Sui Northern Gas Piplelines Limited (SNGPL) meant the first day of the Quaid-e-Azam trophy final ended with honours just about even. Iftikhar Ahmed made an unbeaten 71 that he carries into day two, and the extent to which he can add to his overnight total may well go a long way to determining the destination of this year’s trophy.
On Water and Power Development Authority’s (WAPDA) part, the day was defined by a mesmeric opening spell by Mohammad Asif, who swung and seamed the ball at will, bringing back memories of his heydays in a Pakistan shirt towards the end of the last decade. He was particularly miserly, too, going at less than one per over in his first spell. He accounted for Asad Shafiq, but deserved more considering he ended the day with figures of 20-8-35-1.
WAPDA were well on top in the first two sessions, reducing a powerful SNGPL side to 94 for 4, with international stars Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali and Shafiq all sent back cheaply. But Iftikhar and Mohammad Rizwan, both of whom have played only a handful of international games, stuck together to put on a crucial 89-run partnership and steer their side past choppy waters.
Just as SNGPL seemed dominant, Wahab Riaz, who bowled with both accuracy and pace even towards the end of the day, broke through. With the old ball offering little help, he resorted to bouncers, an especially quick one rushing Rizwan into a pull shot he top edged. Khushdil Shah took a simple catch on the boundary and WAPDA were back in business. When the sixth wicket fell soon after, it looked like they might polish off the tail. But Yasir Shah hung around to provide capable support to Iftikhar, and when the day was called off six overs early for bad light, SNGPL had reached 215 for 6.