RAWALPINDI  -Federal Areas held on to their nerves to beat KP by 25 runs in the Pakistan Cup One-Day 2017 nerve-wrecking encounter played here at Pindi Stadium on Monday.

M Sami late blitz almost snatched victory from Federal Areas, but his unbeaten 25-ball 42 were too less to carry the day. Ehsan Edil and Sohail Khan grabbed three wickets each conceding 54 and 64 runs respectively, as KP were all out for 326 in 49 overs. M Hafeez was named player of the match for his superb batting display.

Chasing a huge total, KP got off to worst possible start as they lost their prolific opener Israrullah at the score of 14 while Iftikhar was sent packing at the total of 51. The outstanding fourth-wicket 94-run partnership between skipper M Rizwan and Imran Butt gave KP hope of chasing down almost impossible target, but later, both Rizwan and Imran got out when KP needed them badly.

Veteran Shoaib Malik then carried the hopes of highly unlikely victory with a superb 72 of 49 balls, smashing 7 boundaries and 2 sixes, but as he tried to improvise, he also lost his wicket. M Sami inflicted new lease of life in KP chase, as he hit quick-fire unbeaten 42 but those proved too less to land their team home, as KP kept on losing wickets at regular intervals and were all out in 49 overs. Imran Butt slammed 66 of 86 balls while skipper Rizwan hit 62.

Earlier, sparkling 123 runs by Test discarded M Hafeez was the highlight of the day for Federal Areas, as they posted massive 351-5 on the board in allotted overs. Federal Areas, who opted to bat first after Imad Wasim won the toss on a placid track, got off to worst possible start as opener Sami Aslam was given out lbw in the third over of M Sami. After that, magnificent 174-run third-wicket stand between Abid Ali and M Hafeez laid the foundation of a massive 351 total. Abid was unlucky not to complete a deserving ton as he was out after scoring 87.

Hafeez was in full flow, it seemed he wanted to get rid of the tag of slow starter and he succeeded in doing so. He completed his ton in 97 balls and was finally got out after scoring 123 off 117 balls studded with 15 fours and 1 six. Haris Sohail also batted well and gathered 56.

Waqas Maqsood was the most successful KP bowler as he grabbed 3-68. Iftikhar Ahmed remained most expensive bowler as he conceded 87 runs in 9 overs. It was highly pathetic captaincy from Rizwan, who utilised 8 bowlers, as he was looking completely out of sorts. He used seven bowlers in the first 23 overs, which showed his inefficiency to lead the side packed with so many top stars.

Federal Areas decided to give rest to Zohaib Ahmed, who is one of the most successful all-rounder of modern era and the skipper, who just recently helped PTV to lift Patron’s Trophy Grade-II title. When asked from a responsible person from Federal Areas, he gave a very childish reason saying, “We wanted to give him much-needed rest.”

Once again the crowd presence for such a high-profile event was quite disappointing. The PCB failed to properly advertise that’s why Rawalpindi people, who are well-known to throng the stadiums in great numbers, couldn’t come to witness the match. Instead of charging for tickets, tournament organising committee chairman Shakil Shaikh must announce free entry, which can pull handsome crowd. On the other hand, the security arrangements were quite satisfactory as compared to previous events, while the arrangements at media centre were also quite satisfactory.

The PCB media department must ensure accreditation cards should only be issued to relevant sports journalists, not on the basis of relations. PCB media head of the event Shakil Khan is very experienced and cooperative, so he should be handed over powers to deal with the situation. Keeping in mind hot weather, tournament organising committee should allow three water breaks rather than two, as players were clearly looking exhausted.

The match officials for the match were Zamir Hiader and Ghaffar Gazmi (umpires), Ahsan Raza (TV umpire), Ahmed Shahab (reserve umpire), Nadeem Arshad (match referee), Shakeel Khan and Umar Farooq (official scorers).