LAHORE - Hussain Talat and Junaid Ali hammered half-centuries to propel Lahore Whites into a commanding position against Lahore Blues on the opening day of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy (QeAT) 2023-2024.
Opening the tournament with great promise, bowlers Ahmed Bashir, Aamir Jamal, and Mohammad Irfan fought back against the onslaught of the batting side, limiting Lahore Whites to 247-7 by the day’s end. Lahore Whites, under the leadership of Saad Naseem, won the toss and chose to field, sending Captain Imran Butt and Umar Siddiq to open the innings for Lahore Blues.
However, before the lunch break, both openers had been dismissed, leaving the Imran-led side in search of stability in their innings. The partnership of 54 runs between Usman Salahuddin and Rizwan Hussain offered some respite. Yet, Lahore Blues faced a persistent challenge from the bowling unit, which took wickets at regular intervals. Ahmed Bashir, Aamir Jamal, and Mohammad Irfan each claimed two wickets. Bowler Bilawal Iqbal also made an early breakthrough. A crucial 73-run partnership between Hussain and Junaid eased the pressure on the Saad-led side, with both batsmen achieving half-centuries. By the close of the day, Lahore Whites had posted a total of 247-7.
In the second first-round match of the QeAT, Peshawar won the toss and elected to field against Karachi Whites on the Abbottabad pitch. Although Karachi, led by Sarfaraz, faced a challenging start, losing three wickets before lunch, the team managed to reach 267- 6 by day’s end, with Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed at the crease.
A wet outfield at the Shoaib Akhtar Cricket Stadium Rawalpindi delayed the start of the third QeAT match. After losing the toss, Faisalabad was asked to field first. The opening stand between the batsmen was solid, contributing 67 runs. Despite Ahmed Safi Abdullah dismissing Haseebullah, breaking the opening partnership, Multan remained comfortable. An additional 42-run partnership between Imran Rafiq and opener Zain Abbas kept the scoreboard ticking. Although Zain achieved a half-century, his wicket eventually fell to Ahmed.
At day’s end, Multan was at 145-2 after 43 overs, with Imran and Sharoon Siraj at the crease. Overnight rain in Rawalpindi also affected the fourth match of the QeAT. After winning the toss, Rawalpindi chose to bowl first. The batting side encountered early setbacks, with openers Samiullah and Salman Khan both dismissed inexpensively.
Nevertheless, a substantial partnership of 137 runs between captain Khushdil Shah and opener M Usman kept FATA in a strong position. Although Usman fell just short of a century, his brilliant 99 remained the highlight of the innings. After his dismissal, FATA lost Rehan Afridi quickly. When play was halted, FATA was 196-5 after 57 overs, with Sameen Gul and M Wasim Khan at the crease.