Pakistan's forgotten man Fawad Alam hits 149 as Karachi Whites win Regional One-Day title

Waseem Ahmed 11/02/2018
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Fawad Alam hit 149 off 130 deliveries in Karachi's successful chase.

Fawad Alam scored a brilliant 149 as Karachi Whites beat Islamabad by five wickets in final of the Regional One-Day Cup in Rawalpindi on Sunday.

The final was another high-scoring affair with Islamabad scoring 347-4 batting first. For the runners-up, Pakistan batting mainstay Babar Azam scored a fine 95-ball 105 while Shahid Yousuf remained unbeaten on 96.

In reply, the Karachi Whites were in trouble early on as they were reduced to 38-2 before a 96-run stand between Alam and Akbar-ur-Rehman (41) steadied the ship.

Alam kept going after the latter’s departure and put together a match-winning 192-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Danish Aziz (86*). In the process, he brought up his eighth List A ton before being dismissed for 149 off 130 deliveries with the Whites within touching distance of victory. Karachi won with three balls to spare.

Pakistan stalwart Babar Azam had earlier scored 105 for Islamabad.

Babar Azam scored 105 for Islamabad.

Alam was declared the player-of-the-match for his ton which included 18 boundaries.

The 32-year-old has been a consistent performer in domestic cricket but continues to be overlooked by national selectors. Alam last played a Test for Pakistan in 2009 with his most recent international appearance an ODI in 2015.

He currently has a first-class average of over 55 having scored 10,742 runs in 145 matches with 27 centuries and 57 fifties. Alam averages nearly 49 in List A cricket after 161 innings with Sunday’s 149 being his highest score ever.

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Pakistan icon Shahid Afridi wins hearts in India by rising above politics

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Afridi has many fans in India and across the world.

Pakistan star Shahid Afridi is adored by fans not only in his country but across the globe and especially in India. His fearless style of cricket has made him a superstar who continues to pull in crowds wherever he goes and whichever format or level of cricket he plays.

During the recently held Ice Cricket Challenge in St Moritz in the Swiss Alps, Afridi showed why he is one of the most beloved cricketers to emerge from the subcontinent.

After the Afridi-led Royals team beat Virender Sehwag’s Badrutt Palace Diamonds side by six wickets, the star all-rounder posed for pictures with a handful of fans who had gathered at the frozen lake that was converted into a cricket pitch.

One India fan asked for a picture to be clicked with Afridi, careful to keep the Indian flag tucked away to avoid any potential unease. However, Afridi asked the fan to unfurl the flag before posing for the picture.

That gesture has won the hearts of scores of fans on both sides of the border.

“I believe as cricketers we can set examples of how relationship between individuals can be a template for relationship between countries,” Afridi was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India.

“I think after Pakistan, the two countries where I have received most love and respect are India and Australia,” he added.

The other big players who featured in the unique cricket event were Shoaib Akhtar, Graeme Smith, Andrew Symonds, Lasith Malinga and Mahela Jayawardene.

Last year, Afridi was gifted an Indian jersey signed by a number of star players including Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh on his retirement from international cricket.

That jersey was later sold at an auction for the star’s charitable institution – the Shahid Afridi Foundation.

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Pakistan batsman Shan Masood now has the best average in 50-over history

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Shan Masood averages 137 in one-dayers this season.

Pakistan batsman Shan Masood has capped an incredible year for batsmen in his country’s domestic One Day Cup by attaining the highest average ever recorded in 50-over history.

This year has seen some incredible numbers come out of Pakistan’s One Day Cup. Three days after Islamabad batsman Abid Ali recorded the highest score in Pakistan’s 50-over history during his unbeaten knock of 209 against Peshawar, Test batsman Shan Masood hit an unbeaten 182 while batting for Islamabad against Rawalpindi.

That innings helped his team reach 380-2 but it was a far from a comfortable win as Rawalpindi made 367-9 from their allotted quota of overs in the semi-final clash.

Masood’s effort that helped Islamabad qualify for the final was special for another reason. The left-handed batsman now averages 58.2 in 50-over cricket – the highest in List A games in history, overtaking the great Michael Bevan’s tally of 15,103 runs from 427 matches at an average of 57.86.

Masood has admittedly played fewer matches – 71 – but his run this season has been stupendous nonetheless.

The left-handed opening batsman has also become only the second batsman in history to score more than 1,000 runs in a 50-over season at an average of more than 100. Masood’s returns this season are 1,237 runs at an average of 137.44, with Bevan the only other batsman to achieve similar numbers – 1,201 runs at an average of 109.18 in 2000.

What had boosted Masood’s average this season is three unbeaten centuries – 182, 128 and 100 – in his last 10 matches.

While Masood’s returns are impressive, it must be noted that this season of 50-over cricket in Pakistan has been particularly productive for batsmen. Earlier last month, wicketkeeper batsman Kamran Akmal became only the third Pakistan batsman to hit a double century in List A matches.

Many in Pakistan believe the reason for such prolific run-scoring is vastly different conditions compared to first-class matches.

In the Quaid-e-Azam first-class tournament, green top wickets and Duke balls meant fast bowlers ruled the roost as the average first innings score was 235 – the lowest in the world – and only one batsman scored more than 500 runs at an average of above 50.

But the scenario has changed in one-day cricket with Kookaburra balls and flatter wickets resulting in 13 scores in excess of 300.

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