Out-of-favour Shoaib Malik put on a superb all-round show to guide PIA into the final of the Faysal Bank One-Day Cup Division I where they will face HBL.
After opting to bowl first at the Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore, PIA restricted Islamabad Leopards to a modest 212 for seven with Malik bagging four wickets to keep the batsmen in check.
Zohaib Ahmed and Faizan Riaz helped Islamabad’s cause with a 116-run partnership for the fifth wicket with the former remaining unbeaten on 68 off 96 deliveries. Faizan contributed a 83-ball 58.
In reply, Malik top-scored with a crucial knock of 60, including just a solitary four, as PIA went past the finish line in the final over to win by four wickets.
Shoaib Khan also contributed 58, an innings that included a six and four boundaries.
HBL down Sialkot Stallions
In the other semi-final, HBL prevailed over the Sialkot team by a mammoth 154 runs.
Batting first, HBL were spurred by a 220-run opening wicket partnership between Taufeeq Umar and Imran Farhat at the Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad, which enabled the team to reach a competitive 334 for six.
Farhat, dropped from the Pakistan squad, made his presence felt with four sixes and 13 boundaries during an impressive 107-ball 125, while Taufeeq made a fluent 100 off 113 deliveries.
In reply, Stallions struggled throughout the innings and were bowled out for 180 in the 43rd over.
Leg-spinner Danish Kaneria claimed four wickets, while Aftab Khan bagged three scalps.
Mohammad Yaseen scored 41 and Shehzad Malik hit 44 in an otherwise disappointing batting display from Sialkot.
Let the performance speak for itself: Farhat
The 29-year-old opening batsman, who was overlooked for the ongoing Asia Cup, was pleased after his century enabled HBL to reach the final.
“We as players and as professionals should let our performance do the talking,” Farhat told The Express Tribune. “No matter if I play international or domestic cricket my focus remains on giving my best to the team.
“But obviously there’s some disappointment after being dropped from the team as I did not perform that badly. I just had a few bad outings and that happens to everyone.”