Photo Credit: Pakistan Cricket Board
A total of 24,254 runs were scored across 29 matches of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2023-24 with 730 wickets falling over the course of the tournament. The country’s premier first-class competition witnessed 51 centuries, including eight double centuries and the highest individual score of 292 from the bat of Multan’s Zain Abbas. This season saw five-wicket hauls on 26 occasions with the best bowling figures registered by FATA’s Sameen Gul (8-51). Four bowlers took 10 wickets in the match.
Sarfaraz Ahmed added yet another feather to his cap by lifting the prestigious Quaid-e-Azam Trophy at Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday after Karachi Whites outclassed Faisalabad Region and defeated them by 456 runs. This was sixth biggest win in first-class matches in Pakistan and the biggest margin of victory in a Quaid-e-Azam Trophy final. Karachi Whites clinched their fifth Quaid-e-Azam Trophy title with Sarfaraz Ahmed winning his first as captain of the team.
Karachi Whites were the most dominant team throughout the tournament, boasting the services of Test stars Sarfaraz Ahmed, Asad Shafiq, Khurram Manzoor, Noman Ali and Mir Hamza. The side was further strengthened by the arrival of Shan Masood and Saim Ayub towards the later stages of the tournament.
The final proved to be a one-sided affair where Faheem Ashraf-led young Faisalabad side ran out of steam after batting hard throughout the season where they edged out Lahore Blues by the barest of margins to reach the grand finale.
The highlight of the final was scintillating centuries by the flamboyant young opener from Karachi Saim Ayub who followed his flawless double ton in the first innings with another century in the second, becoming the first batter to achieve this feat in a Quaid-e-Azam Trophy final. Saim is also only the second batter after Salman Butt (125 and 105 not out) to score centuries in both innings of a Quaid-e-Azam Trophy final.
Shan and Asad also weighed in with centuries of their own. Mir Hamza and Shahnawaz Dahani shared nine wickets between them to skittle Faisalabad for a meager 124 in pursuit of mammoth 543 by Karachi Whites in the first innings who then decided not to enforce the follow on and piled on the runs in the second innings. By the time Karachi Whites declared, they were 789 runs ahead and the eventual result was a mere formality despite the best efforts of skipper Faheem Ashraf who scored a battling century to delay the inevitable.
Earlier in the tournament, Multan equalled the world record for the most number of centuries (6) in an innings of a first-class match, en route to 718-8 declared against Lahore Blues at Gaddafi Stadium. Karachi Whites posted the highest total at Gaddafi Stadium when they made 784-5 against Lahore Whites.
This year’s championship was played between eight teams on a single league basis. FATA, by finishing last, will now be relegated to play in the non-first class Hanif Muhammad Trophy next season; Islamabad Region who won the Hanif Muhammad Trophy will replace them in next year’s Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.
Sahibzada Farhan led the batting charts by churning out 847 runs with the help of three centuries and two half-centuries including a career best of 245. Karachi Whites captain Sarfaraz with 697 runs and his teammate Asad with 670 runs stood second and third on the batting charts, respectively.
Bowling honours went to Khurram Shahzad of Faisalabad Region who took 36 wickets at an impressive average of 20.31. Seasoned pro Mir Hamza was second on the list with 32 wickets at an average of 20.88, his effort was remarkable considering he played two league games at the featherbed of Gaddafi Stadium unlike Khurram who played all his league games on generally seamer friendly pitches up north. Test fast bowler Mohammad Ali also had a good season and was third amongst the leading wicket takers, capturing 28 wickets at 25.35. Amongst wicket-keepers, Junaid Ali of Lahore Blues and Ali Shan of Faisalabad finished with 29 victims whilst the winning captain of Karachi Whites Sarfaraz accounted for 28 dismissals, capping off a remarkable season for the former Test captain.