Azhar’s splendid ton, Fakhar’s boundary-laden 99 drive Team Green to victory



Azhar Ali led from the front with a fine century while Fakhar Zaman and Asad Shafiq contributed with hefty scores as Team Green romped to victory by six wickets in the four-day intra-squad match in Derby.

Fakhar Zaman provided the impetus for completing a successful run-chase from the get-go despite the early loss of substitute opening batsman Mohammad Hafeez.

The veteran all-rounder was instated as a stand-in player for Abid Ali, who suffered a concussion scare on Sunday after being struck flush on the helmet whilst fielding at short-leg.

Hafeez was dismissed for just two by Shaheen Afridi before Fakhar unleashed a breathtaking counterattack that shifted the momentum towards Team Green.

Fakhar took a special liking for leg-spinner Shadab Khan’s bowling, punishing the youngster for several maximums during his breezy knock.

The left-handed batsman, known for his white-ball dominance, smashed six sixes and 10 boundaries in his belligerent innings as he fell only one run short of a deserving hundred.

Fakhar’s exceptional 99 against a pace attack comprising Shaheen, Sohail Khan, Usman Shinwari and Musa Khan makes a case for a return to Tests since he last represented Pakistan in a red-ball game during the South Africa tour last year.

His mammoth partnership of 159 with Azhar set the foundation for Team Green’s untroubled journey towards the daunting 353-run target.

Azhar was then joined by fellow stalwart Shafiq, who brought up his second fifty of the game in another smooth stand between the two.

Once Azhar reached the score of 120 and his side was only 63 runs away from a win, he retired himself out and gave Iftikhar Ahmed the chance to free his arms in the middle.

Shafiq also soon joined his captain in the pavilion after amassing an attacking 67 off 95 balls featuring two sixes as he made way for wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed.

The duo of Iftikhar and Sarfaraz then ensured their team marched to victory without further drama as the opposition resorted to bowling part-timers in the dying moments of the game.

The likes of Babar Azam and Shan Masood had a go with the ball towards the end allowing the batters to feast on their lacklustre bowling.

Earlier in the day, Team White’s Mohammad Rizwan added 19 runs to his overnight score to get to three-figures as he starred in a 119-run partnership with Shadab.

Rizwan’s impressive form with the bat in the warm-up game reaffirms his status as the first-choice wicketkeeper-batsman for Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Shadab showed promise in his undefeated 62-ball stay at the crease but flopped badly during his bowling spell, leaking 104 runs in 17 overs.

Pakistan will have one more intra-squad practice match before the Test series against England starts on August 5.

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