Sports: Cricket: Athar knocks ton as AA Foods win National Seniors Cup

Karachi: Athar Laeeq smashed a scintillating century to power AA Foods to a formidable 102-run victory over Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) here at the Naya Nazimabad Ground in a Southern Zone encounter of the 19th National Seniors Cup Cricket Tournament 2017-18.

Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA) is organizing this tournament.

In other matches, Gold Bridge Media defeated Airport Gymkhana by seven wickets at the TMC Ground and Haseen Habib whipped Lucky Knitts by eight wickets.

Athar Laeeq’s whirlwind 124 off 60 balls containing 11 sixes and seven fours powered AA Foods to a mammoth total of 276 for five in allotted 25 overs against CAA.

AA Foods followed it up with disciplined bowling performance to send their rivals packing for 174 in 24.1 overs despite Abdul Rahman’s 62 off 45 balls. Left-arm seamer Fawad Khan (3-21) and off-spinner Muhammad Aqil (2-11) were pick of the bowlers but Man of the Match award was clinched by Athar Laeeq.

The Gold Bridge Media spin duo of Tahir Naqqash (4-28) and Muhammad Ali (3-24) routed Airport Gymkhana for 168 in 22 overs with their top four Kamil Khan (42 off 26 balls), Aashir Ali (32 off 26 balls), Kashif Hanif (29 off 15 balls) and Imran Ahmed (28 off 22 balls) doing bulk of the scoring.

The 134-run third wicket partnership between opener Irfan Khan (69 off 40 balls) and Man of the Match Wasim Naeem, who remained unbeaten on 74 off 41 balls, helped Gold Bridge Media reach the target of 169 with almost 10 overs to spare.

Tight bowling from Haseeb Habib restricted Lucky Knitts to 169 for seven in 25 overs with Ali Raza (61 off 50 balls) and Ali Asad (38 off 34 balls) contributing solidly.

The 158-run opening stand between skipper Fawad Bari (86 off 50 balls), declared Man of the Match, and Ahmed Hussain (68 off 46 balls) took Haseeb Habib home leisurely with eight overs and as many wickets in hand.

A total of 103 outfits from 50 cities, having been divided in 31 groups, are participating in the tournament being sponsored by Omar Associates (Pvt) Ltd with Naya Nazimabad being the co-sponsors. The National Seniors Cup, contested annually between the selected teams of the various cities, has been organized by the PVCA every season since its launch in 1998.

A total of 34 city teams from Punjab, eight from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, five from Sindh, two from Islamabad and one from Baluchistan are taking part in the event whose national final will be contested between the champions of Northern and Southern Zones, in Karachi on April 22. The total prize money on offer is Rs 694,000.

In the Southern Zone competition, Omar Associates, Fact Date Engineering, AA Foods, CAA and Quetta are placed in the Group A while the Group B comprises of RLCA, Gold Bridge, Airport Gymkhana, Haseen Habib and Lucky Knitts with Hyderabad, Badin, Jamshoro and Mirpurkhas being the drawn in the interior Sindh group.

The group matches of the Southern Zone, taking place at Karachi and Hyderabad, will be of 20 overs each innings whereas the Zonal finals as well as the National Final will be of 30 overs per innings.