NBP in driving seat against leaders WAPDA
National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) were eyeing a possible climb to the top spot as they gained a 131-run first-innings advantage over ranking leaders Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) at the NBP Sports Complex. The hosts dismissed WAPDA for 312 after compiling 443 in their first innings. The lead was stretched to 190 as NBP moved onto 59 without loss in their second innings. Resuming on their overnight 121 for 3, needing another 173 runs to avert the follow-on, WAPDA achieved their first objective but fell considerably short of the lead. Nawaz Sardar, overnight on 32, added only three runs to his score and his fourth-wicket stand with Aamer Sajjad ended at 77 runs. Aamer then added 84 with Bilal Khilji before Zulqarnain Haider chipped in with 33 runs to reduce the deficit further. For National Bank, Wahab Riaz excelled with figures of five wickets for 93 runs in 29 overs while seamer Tahir Mughal picked up 3 for 71.
Habib Bank Limited (HBL) took a big step towards returning to the top against Lahore Ravi at the Lahore Country Club. After obtaining a first-innings lead of 105, HBL declared their second innings at 212 for 7, gibing them an overall advantage of 317 runs. Fahad Masood set HBL's victory in sight by picking up 4 for 13 in seven overs as Lahore Ravi crashed to 58 for 4 in their second innings, still 260 runs away from a win with six wickets standing.
Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) are still 175 runs behind Faisalabad with only one wicket intact at the Sargodha Stadium. Replying to Faisalabad's 521 for 7 declared, SSGC made 346 but lost nine wickets on the way. Saeed Bin Nasir showed the way with a composed 73 and Mohammad Zafar hit 81 while Ahmed Zeeshan, the wicket-keeper, missed his century by just one run.
Placed at the bottom of the Group A table and with six successive defeats, Pakistan Customs hit 446 for 6 against Multan at the Gymkhana Ground, requiring a further 121 runs to match Multan's first-innings total. Customs' imports from England domestic cricket finally came good in the form of Rawait Khan (62) and Bilal Shafayat (99) while former international Zahoor Elahi scored a 191-ball 132 to boost his team's score. The 36-year-old Elahi batted for almost four and a half hours while hitting 23 fours in his 28th first-class century.
Sialkot reached a comfortable 346 for three but still trail Hyderabad by 69 runs at Jinnah Stadium. Their innings was powered by a 158-run opening partnership between Kamran Younis (90) and Naeemuddin (122*) before a useful contribution from Faisal Khan allowed the hosts to post a strong reply.
Karachi Blues were struggling at 41 for 3 against Lahore Shalimar as they chase 352 for victory at the Sheikhupura Stadium. Lahore compiled an impressive second innings total of 329 runs after gaining a slender first-innings lead of 22. Reduced to 112 for 5 at one stage, Lahore were rescued by Ahmed Butt (75) who shared an 80-run sixth-wicket partnership with Ali Raza (60). Needing a strong foundation for a march towards victory, Karachi were left reeling by the Lahore bowlers as they need a spirited, and improved, batting performance to have any chance of gaining maximum points.
Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) thrashed third-placed Islamabad by an innings and 54 runs inside three days at the Diamond Cricket Club Ground and took top spot in the group for the first time this season. With a first-innings lead of 222 runs, SNGPL had Islamabad reduced to 102 for 9 after seamer Asad Ali grabbed 10 wickets in the match. However, Raja Kashif delayed the inevitable with an aggressive 53 off 59 balls and added 66 for the last wicket with Yasin Bari (22*).
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) have every opportunity to displace SNGPL at the top after they first grabbed a 153-run first innings lead and then left Quetta tottering at 166 for 6 in their second innings at the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) Stadium.
Abbottabad posted 440 for 9 in their first innings to take a big lead over Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) at the Abbottabad Cricket Stadium. Riaz Kail scored a career-best 153 off 231 balls with 17 fours and three sixes while useful contributions from the middle and low-order enabled Abbottabad to race past 400.
KRL were looking towards an innings-victory over Peshawar at the Arbab Niaz Stadium. Powered by Yasir Arafat's 6 for 54, KRL had Peshawar bowled out for 131 runs in the first innings thus gaining a 321-run advantage. Following on, Peshawar were 205 for five in the second innings and still require another 116 to make KRL bat again.