KARACHI: Inspired by another superlative knock from skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and blazing contribution of Khurram Shehzad, Faisalabad put themselves in complete command of their Quaid-i-Azam Trophy Grade-II Cricket Tournament final against Multan on Monday.
At the halfway stage of the four-day fixture, the Faisalabad batsmen went on rampage at the Multan Cricket Stadium after openers Ali Rafiq and Asif Ali provided a solid start with an admirable partnership of 94 that ultimately paved away for their side to secure a decisive lead of 116 on the first innings.
Replying to the hostsâ€™ tally of 245, Faisalabad ended their 83-over innings at 361-8 after having resumed the day at 33-0. The left-handed Ali, who struck a match-winning century in the semi-final win over Sialkot in Karachi last week, compiled an obdurate 81 off 183 balls with eight boundaries during a stay of 282 minutes.
Asif contributed 46 off 93 balls with the aid of seven fours. But it was the batting of Misbah and Khurram that took the game away from Multan.
Misbah, who shared a third-wicket stand of 116 with Ali, failed by only six runs from scoring his third century in four matches. After reaching 94 in 181 minutes, the Pakistan Test captain slashed a catch to point off the persevering Multan skipper Zulfiqar Babar. His 130-ball innings included 10 boundaries and one six.
Khurram, who put on 87 with Misbah in quick time, put the icing on Faisalabadâ€™s cake by bludgeoning seven fours and three sixes in a blistering 37-ball contribution of 70.
Zulfiqar, the discarded Test slow left-armer, finished with figures of 6-149 from 35 over with fellow southpaw Ali Usman taking 2-73.
Faced an awkward period before stumps, Multan lost Waqar Hussain (0) and the first-innings century-maker Imran Rafiq (5) to the fiery Samiullah Khan Niazi, the former international left-arm paceman before reaching 29-2 at draw of stumps.
MULTAN (1st Innings) 245 (Imran Rafiq 130 not out; Ahmed Safi 6-68, Naseer Akram 2-46).
FAISALABAD (1st Innings, overnight 33-0):
Ali Rafiq c Zain b Ali 81
Asif Ali c Rizwan b Zulfiqar 46
Usman Arshad c Waqar b Zulfiqar 11
Misbah-ul-Haq c Sohaib b Zulfiqar 94
Khurram Shehzad c sub b Zulfiqar 70
Imran Khalid c Imran b Ali 24
Ali Shan c Rizwan b Zulfiqar 10
Ahmed Safi lbw b Zulfiqar 8
Naseer Akram not out 1
Ehsan Adil not out 2
EXTRAS (B-10, LB-3, W-1) 14
TOTAL (for eight wkts, 83 overs) 361
FALL OF WKTS: 1-94, 2-108, 3-224, 4-311, 5-314, 6-349, 7-351, 8-359.
DID NOT BAT: Samiullah Khan Niazi.
BOWLING: Sadaif Mehdi 17-2-76-0 (1w); Rizwan Haider 2-1-3-0; Zia-ul-Haq 13-0-47-0; Zulfiqar Babar 35-8-149-6; Ali Usman 16-1-73-2.
MULTAN (2nd Innings):
Waqar Hussain c Misbah b Samiullah 0
Zain Abbas not out 15
Imran Rafiq lbw b Samiullah 5
Gulraiz Sadaf not out 2
EXTRAS (B-1, LB-1, W-3, NB-2) 7
TOTAL (for two wkts, 13 overs) 29
FALL OF WKTS: 1-9, 2-19.
BOWLING (to-date): Samiullah Khan Niazi 6-2-14-2 (2nb); Naseer Akram 6-1-10-0 (2w); Ehsan Adil 1-0-3-0 (1w).