PCB: Faisalabad and Karachi Whites eye coveted Quaid-e-Azam Trophy title

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Photo Credit: Pakistan Cricket Board

  • Tournament stats pack is attached here
  • Urdu version of the media release attached here

Faheem Ashraf-led Faisalabad and Sarfaraz Ahmed-led Karachi Whites are set to face off in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2023-24 final, to be played from 22 to 26 October at Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore. Both sides will be eying to secure the first-class title as it promises distinction considering it is the first premier tournament completed since the restoration of the domestic structure under the PCB Constitution of 2014.

The previous edition of the trophy, played before the reinstitution of 2014 PCB Constitution, was won by Northern. Umar Amin-led Northern had defeated Khurram Manzoor-led Sindh in the final at Gaddafi Stadium by an innings and 55 runs. Northern’s Mohammad Huraira and Mubasir Khan had been the headline performers of the season. Sindh’s prodigal spinner Abrar Ahmed, after picking up 43 wickets in 12 innings, had earned a national call-up following the breakthrough season he had last year.

Under the newly reinstated structure, eight regional teams – Lahore Whites, Lahore Blues, Rawalpindi, FATA, Peshawar, Multan, Karachi Whites and Faisalabad – partook in the round-robin stage of the tournament where each played seven games from 10 September to 19 October across three cities in the country, namely, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Abbottabad. Faisalabad, with 108 points and three wins, topped the table. Karachi Whites, with 100 points and two wins, were squarely behind Faisalabad, as the two teams qualified for the final. Lahore Blues, with 99 points and two wins, narrowly missed out on securing a berth in the final.

The clash between Faisalabad and Karachi Whites promises to be an exciting one as both sides have displayed solid performances throughout the season. Both the sides are captained by experienced individuals; Faheem has represented Pakistan in 16 Tests and has 73 first-class appearances under his cap while Sarfaraz, the former Pakistan Test captain, has played 53 Tests and 173 first-class games.

Karachi Whites’ Sarfaraz Ahmed and Asad Shafiq have both had a season to remember. The former has accumulated 579 runs in six matches and hit three half-centuries and two centuries, including a magnificent double century which came against Lahore Whites. Asad, on the other hand, has scored 532 runs in seven matches; he has two half-centuries and two centuries across the season. Left-arm spinner Noman Ali has gotten 21 wickets at an average of 22.19 in six matches, which included a six-wicket haul. Left-arm pacer Mir Hamza has been the most successful bowler for Karachi Whites. He has accounted for 26 wickets at an average of 20.88, returning with six wickets at the expense of 37 runs as his season-best figures. He has been the second-highest wicket-taker of the season, only behind Faisalabad’s right-arm pacer Khurram Shahzad.

Khurram has picked up 31 wickets in seven matches, at an average of 18.13. His best performance in the season thus far boasted six wickets for just 23 runs. Right-arm pacer Mohammad Ali, with 24 wickets, was the second-most successful bowler for Faisalabad. He has registered two five-wicket-hauls in the tournament thus far. Mohammad Huraira has been the most prominent batter for Faisalabad; he has 474 runs from seven matches so far, including two half-centuries. Ali Waqas, in just four matches, has 316 runs, including two centuries. Skipper Faheem Ashraf, who missed out on the initial two games due to his inclusion in the Pakistan squad for the ACC Asia Cup 2023, has had an impressive season as well; he has accumulated 265 runs and picked 14 wickets. He has two half-centuries and a five-wicket haul from the five games he has played in the tournament thus far.

Overall, Peshawar’s captain Sahibzada Farhan has topped the runs chart of the tournament so far. He scored a mammoth 847 runs during the season, hitting two half-centuries and three centuries, which included a double century as well. Multan’s Zain Abbas has been impressive as well, mounting 665 runs, including three half-centuries and two centuries. His knock of 292 runs against FATA was the best individual performance with the bat during the tournament. Rawalpindi’s right-arm-pacer Kashif Ali equalled Mir Hamza’s tally of 26 wickets. He registered three five-wicket-hauls in the season. Lahore Blues’ right-arm-pacer Ali Shafique notably grabbed 24 wickets in six matches, including two five-wicket-hauls.

Both Faheem and Sarfaraz have highlighted the excitement in their respective camps for being within touching distance of the country’s premier first-class trophy. Faheem Ashraf told PCB, “The entire team is focused on winning the final. Being on top of the table has given us confidence and momentum which we will use to our advantage. 

“We have had some extraordinary performances, individually and as a team. I have faith in the team, going into the final, as I know all the players will give their best.”

Sarfaraz Ahmed said, “We have played some good cricket throughout the tournament and have taken it one game at a time. We are focused on securing the title so we will continue to play according to what has worked for us in the tournament so far.

“Having a mix of experienced players like Asad Shafiq, Shan Masood and Khurram Manzoor and youngsters like Omair Bin Yousuf, Saim Ayub and Ghulam Mudassar among others really helps the combination of the team. It has favoured our positive approach so far.”

Hanif Mohammad Trophy:

The grade-II four-day tournament, which was rebranded as the Hanif Mohammad Trophy under the new domestic structure, will also see its last round of games play out from 22 to 25 October. At the end of the 10-team tournament, the top team will qualify for the next season of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy while FATA – as they have finished last in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy – will be relegated to the grade-II tournament.

The tournament is currently in its Super-Four stage, after Islamabad, Abbottabad, Quetta and Hyderabad qualified ahead from the round stage. Thus far, Islamabad top the table with 48 points. Quetta stand second with 29 points. Hyderabad and Abbottabad occupy the third and fourth spots with 24 and eight points respectively. Bahawalpur’s Mohammad Ammar, after accumulating 510 runs in four matches, has been the tournament’s most prolific batter. Quetta’s Abdul Wahid Bangalzai, with 470 runs in six matches, has also been impressive. Daniyal Hussain Rajput, representing Hyderabad, follows close behind with 468 runs in six matches. Quetta’s Jalat Khan and Hyderabad’s Jawad Ai have been the most successful bowlers so far, picking up 37 wickets apiece in six matches. Shayan Sheikh, representing Islamabad, is close behind with 36 wickets in six matches.

The fixtures for the last round of the super-four stage of the Hanif Mohammad Trophy are as follows:

Quetta v Islamabad at Multan Cricket Stadium

Abbottabad v Hyderabad at Sheikh Khalifa Sports Complex, Rahim Yar Khan

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