Afridi returns to first-class cricket with belligerent half-century

KARACHI: Shahid Afridi marked his return to the first-class arena after a lapse of more than four years with a typically aggressive knock as Habib Bank dominated the first day of their Silver League clash against State Bank in the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy National Cricket Championship on Thursday.

The Pakistan all-rounder, who had confined himself to limited-overs cricket since playing the Lord’s Test against Australia in July 2010, smashed 58 off 40 deliveries with five fours and a six while opening the innings as Habib Bank closed at 106-3 after bundling out State Bank for 120 at the Marghazar Cricket Stadium in Islamabad.

After being asked to bat by Imran Farhat, State Bank lost the first five wickets for just 23 runs before Mohtashim Ali (46 not out off 75 balls, five boundaries) lifted them to 120 all out. Umar Gul (3-54) and Fahad Masood (4-17 in 12 overs) caused most of the damage while Afridi bagged one wicket for 13 runs in four overs.

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