Close wins for WAPDA, PIA
Rafatullah Mohmand single-handedly guided Water and Power Development Authority to a one-wicket victory against Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. WAPDA had bowled ZTBL out for 194, but then faltered in their reply, collapsing from 74 for 1 to 119 for 6. Mohmand held firm and ended up getting 108 of the runs needed for victory on his own, surviving another mini-collapse later, when WAPDA lost three wickets for 14 runs and were down to their last pair with 21 runs still to get. The next highest score for WAPDA after Mohmand's was 21, and only three other batsmen got to double figures as 18-year-old left-arm spinner Raza Hasan ran through their line-up, finishing with figures of 5 for 42. ZTBL's innings had got off to a solid start, with opener Babar Azam scoring 50, and they were 168 for 4 at one stage, looking set for a decent total. But WAPDA's spinners, Zulfiqar Babar and Sohaib Maqsood, took five wickets between them, and made sure ZTBL's lower order didn't contribute much.
A lower-order collapse saw Sialkot fall 22 runs short of Multan's total of 261 at the Jinnah Stadium in Sialkot. A fifth-wicket stand of 84 between Mansoor Ajmad, who scored 95, and Nasir Iqbal had brought Sialkot to within 65 runs of their total. But they proceeded to lose their last six wickets for 42 runs and were bowled out with 5.2 overs still left in their innings. Left-arm spinner Mohammad Hafeez was the main destroyer during the collapse, taking three wickets. Multan had reached their total through a team batting effort. The top scorer was Zain Abbas, who scored 58, but all but four of their batsmen got past 15 and they were able to post a competitive total despite being bowled out in 48.2 overs.
National Bank of Pakistan began their tournament campaign with a tight three-wicket win over Faisalabad Wolves at the Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad. Three half-centuries, from Hasan Mahmood, captain Mohammad Salman and Hasan Mahmood (1) had boosted Faisalabad to a challenging 264 for 8 but a collective batting display from NBP helped scale that target. Opener Nasir Jamshed made an attacking 48, Naumanullah chipped in with 41 while Hammad Azam guided NBP to victory with an unbeaten 93, laced with 10 fours and a six. Faisal Yasim took four wickets but Azam's match-winning effort ensured that it was in vain.
Pakistan International Airlines edged Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited in a thriller at the Margzhar Cricket Ground in Islamabad. Faisal Iqbal (62), wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed (88) and Anwar Ali (42*) were the chief architects of PIA's recovery from 80 for 5 to an eventually adequate 270. Ali blasted seven fours in his 27-ball innings while Sarfraz, too, kept up the pace by scoring at better than a run-a-ball. SNGPL's chase appeared to be on track as half-centuries from Raza Ali Dar, Khurram Shehzad and captain Azhar Shafiq guided them to 214 for 4. But Ali bagged two wickets and Aizaz Cheema struck thrice to eke out a four-run win despite Shafiq remaining unbeaten on a 62-ball 67.
Habib Bank Limited easily chased Rawalpindi's 225, winning by eight wickets with 28 balls to spare, at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. HBL's pace trio did the job for them with Shahid Nazir, Fahad Masood and Kamran Hussain taking seven wickets between them as they bowled Rawalpindi out. Rawalpindi's total would not even have crossed 200 had it not been for opener Shoaib Nasir's century. Nasir had to watch wickets fall around him but held firm to ensure his bowlers had something to bowl at. It wasn't enough, though, as half-centuries by both HBL's openers Imran Farhat and Shan Masood, and an unbeaten 71 by Saleem Elahi meant HBL were always comfortable during the chase.
Islamabad Leopards eased to a six-wicket win over Karachi Dolphins at the Diamond Club Ground in Islamabad. The pace trio of Nasrullah Khan, Fakhar Hussain and Rauf Akbar grabbed seven wickets to help bowl out Karachi for 213. Wicketkeeper Owais Rehmani resisted and top-scored with 59 and was supported by Misbah Khan in a 86-run stand down the order which rescued his team from 117 for 7 but not from defeat. In the chase, Zeeshan Mushtaq smashed an unbeaten 91 while Ameer Khan assisted him with 51 to ensure victory with 53 balls to spare.