LAHORE - Zafar Gohar, with his all-round superb performance, guided Pakistan Juniors to five-wicket triumph over Qatar XI in the international cricket match played here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Wednesday under the umbrella of the Punjab Youth Festival.
Provincial Minister for Sports and Education Rana Mashhood Ahmad Khan was chief guest at the international cricket match while DG Sports Board Punjab Usman Anwar, PCB officials Intikhab Alam and Shafiq Ahmad Papa and a good number of cricket lovers were also present on the occasion.
Qatar openers failed to provide a good start and were bowled out cheaply while the story of other players was also the same as they could not contributed well. But when it mattered the most, Khurram Shahzad and Nauman Sarwar justified their roles by playing sensational innings as they contributed significant 69 and 24 runs respectively to help their team post a decent total of 131-8 in 20 overs. Nadeem Bhatti also managed to reach double figures by scoring 17 runs. Pakistan bowlers bowled brilliantly and restricted Qatar to 131-8. Zia Ul Haq and Zafar Gohar were the bowlers of the day as both clinched three wickets while Karamat Ali and M Aftab got one wicket each.
Pakistan Juniors’ openers were not so impressive and lost their wickets cheaply. Hassan Raza and Zafar Gohar were the stars of the day as they helped the hosts achieve the target in 16.1 overs. Hassan’s arrival at the crease accelerated the scoring momentum as he hammered superb unbeaten 51 runs and his partner Zafar punished the bowlers at his will and collected significant 41 runs while M Umair gathered 17. For Qatar, Awais Malik and Abbas Shah claimed two wickets each for 25 and 27 runs respectively.
Speaking on the occasion, winning team captain Sami Aslam said: “The Sports Board Punjab (SBP) in collaboration with Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) organised the international match in a trend-setting manner. The men in green played really well against the guest team and due to their hard work and positive contribution, we managed to register a good victory for our country.”
Qatar team captain Awais Malik said: “The entire Qatar team enjoyed the international match a lot. Though we lost it yet it provided us chance to play against one of the cricket world’s best teams and we learnt a lot from it. We would like play against the green shirts in future too.”  Appreciating the hospitality of Pakistanis, the Qatar captain said: “Pakistanis are very caring and loving nation and the way they honoured us is really commendable. We can’t forget these pleasant memories which we will bring with us and tell our countrymen that Pakistan is a safe country to host international sports events and it also respects his guests a lot,” he concluded.
The Minister said that after Qatar, the cricket teams of other countries would also visit the country. “The SBP and the PCB are making joint efforts to convince the other countries for cricket series in Pakistan. The T20 match against Qatar is the beginning of international cricket activities in Pakistan and after the completion of Punjab Youth Festival (PYF) 2014, we, with the assistance of the PCB, will try our best to bring other cricket teams to Pakistan.” He stated that over 50 countries including India had shown their willingness to feature in the International Youth Festival in which several teams would participate in football, hockey and cricket competition.
SUMMARISED SCORES:
Qatar XI: 131-8 in 20 overs (Khurram Shahzad 69, Nauman Sarwar 24, Nadeem Bhatti 17; Zia Ul Haq 3-18, Zafar Gohar 3-18, M Aftab 25-1, Karamat Ali 28-1).
Pakistan Juniors: 134-5 in 16.1 overs (Hassan Raza 51*, Zafar Gohar 41, M Umair 17; Awais Malik 2-15, Abbas Shah 2-27).