Kaneria spins HBL to second win
Habib Bank Limited maintained their perfect start with their second successive win, a 155-run thumping of Karachi Dolphins in Rawalpindi. The match started badly for them as opener Imran Farhat fell for 1, but solid contributions from the rest of the top order and half-centuries from Aftab Alam and Hasan Raza pushed them to what looked a competitive 262. It proved much more than sufficient as Dolphins collapsed to 107 all out. Medium-pacer Fahad Masood did the early damage, taking three top-order wickets, before legspinner Danish Kaneria ripped out four wickets for 28 to confirm a big victory.
In another one-sided match, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines crushed Islamabad Leopards by 109 runs at the Diamond Club ground in Islamabad. Opener Sohail Ahmed's half-century guided SNGPL to a solid start but a slew of wickets left them wobbling at 157 for 5. The experienced Saleem Mughal stabilised the innings with a 55 that took them to 271. In response, Islamabad's batsmen flopped with only opener Zeeshan Ali making it past 16. He went on to make 63, but hardly had any support as Islamabad subsided to 162 all out.
The most competitive match in the group was the one between the table-toppers and the team at the bottom. Pakistan International Airlines kept a spotless record by picking up their third win in three matches, beating Rawalpindi Rams by 45 runs in Islamabad. Faisal Iqbal's century was the centerpiece of PIA's innings, with support from opener Agha Sabir's 53 before a flurry of late hitting lifted PIA to 290. They seemed set for a huge victory when Rawalpindi slid to 61 for 4 but Rawalpindi's middle-order put up some resistance, with Zahid Mansoor and Jamal Anwar helping them to 245 limiting the margin of defeat.
It was a match that was decided by the how the lower orders batted. Water and Power Development Authority's bowlers added some crucial runs while Multan Tigers' last five wickets collapsed for six runs to hand WAPDA a comfortable 77-run win at the Lahore City Cricket Association Ground. Both innings had followed a similar pattern after Multan opted to field. WAPDA were struggling at 52 for 4 but Sohaib Maqsood launched a counter-attack, smashing 77 at more than a run-a-ball. After Maqsood fell caught behind, each of WAPDA's last four batsmen made more than 10 to carry their side well past 200. Multan began poorly as well in their chase of 224, Kashif Raza ripping through the top order to leave them tottering at 39 for 3. Waqas Sharif did what Maqsood had done earlier, slamming eight fours in his 61 as Multan fought back. But Zulfiqar Babar nipped the recovery with three wickets, including that of Sharif. And Raza returned to clean up the tail as Multan were dismissed for 147 after having been 141 for 5 at one stage.
Majid Jahangir's maiden List A century was not enough to save Sialkot Stallions from losing to National Bank of Pakistan by 46 runs at the Jinnah Stadium in Sialkot. Jahangir and Shehzad Malik (67) had lifted Sialkot from a precarious position, almost doubling the score after they had slumped to 113 for 5 chasing a stiff 312. But their dismissals took the wind out of Sialkot's sails, and they were soon bowled out for 265. National Bank's Uzair-ul-Haq was the best bowler on both sides, taking 4 for 46. Half-centuries from Hammad Azam, Nasir Jamshed and Qaiser Abbas had earlier set up National Bank's huge total. After opener Jamshed (75) had provided a solid platform, Azam (76 off 54) and Abbas (56 off 34) took the score beyond 300 in an unbeaten 114-run partnership for the fifth wicket.
Half-centuries from Babar Azam and Shahid Yousuf and left-arm spinner Raza Hasan's four wickets took Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited to an emphatic 81-run victory against Faisalabad Wolves at the Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad. The 158-run stand between 16-year old Azam (78) and Yousuf (76) formed the bulk of ZTBL's score after they were inserted by Faisalabad. ZTBL were 219 for 2 at one stage, but left-arm spinner Hasan Mahmood took his best List A figures of 5 for 40 to restrict them to 269. It was young Raza's turn to respond, and he grabbed 4 for 46 as Faisalabad lost regular wickets. All but two Faisalabad batsmen made double-digit scores, but none more than 33 as they limped to 188.