Iftikhar fifty stuns star-studded Lahore Whites
Multan, after being inserted, posted 169 losing only three wickets. They didn't have a particularly big opening stand though; their scoreboard read 25 when Bahawalpur captain Kamran Hussain removed his opposite number Kamran Akmal. But thereafter, Farhat and then Abbas, took control and cranked things up too. The duo hit eight and seven fours respectively, and Naved Yasin's 26 off 14 balls provided a strong finish they were looking for. Three of Bahawalpur's bowlers conceded more than nine runs an over.
Bahawalpur's chase slumped to 14 for 2 as seamer Aamer Yamin removed the openers early. Riasat Ali, who made 63 off 40 balls, including four fours and four sixes, put on 68 for the third wicket in the company of Faisal Mubashir. Bahawalpur, despite losing only four wickets, were never really in with a chance owing to the Multan bowlers making run-scoring difficult. Majid Ali and Rahat Ali finished with economy rates of less than 4.3.
Iqbal could not have asked for a more complete performance. Having chosen to bat, openers Ahsan Ali (30 off 26) and Rameez Raja (367off 18) provided a rollicking start. Then Iqbal lent structure to the total with 60 off 43 balls, including eight fours. Karachi cruised to a strong 173 for 7 despite a spate of run outs in the lower-middle order.
Hyderabad's chase fell away even before it began. There were seven single-digit scores, four of which were ducks. Their first wicket fell with the score on 14, and then they lost three more on 15, and were it not for Shoaib Laghari's 51 off 37 balls, they may not have even crossed 100. Hamza, with figures of 4-0-28-4, ensured Hyderabad were all out in the 15th over and won the Man of the Match for his efforts.
Iftikhar Ahmed's 39-ball 59 and Adil Amin's unbeaten 38 off 32 balls helped Peshawar Region beat a Lahore Region Whites side made up of seven Pakistan internationals. The three-wicket victory was achieved with only one ball to spare, reflecting the way the match see-sawed.
Peshawar started their pursuit of 166 briskly, but Mohammad Irfan knocked over three of the top-four to leave the score at 56 for 4. Then Iftikhar and Amin added 68 runs at 8.86 per over to revive the chase. The next twist came when Lahore took two wickets in as many balls, including Iftikhar's, with Peshawar still needing 42 off 29 balls. Amin, though, held his nerve right to the end. Irfan finished with 4 for 16 even as three of his team-mates conceded 10 or more runs an over.
Lahore would have been confident of a different result with two of their top-four scoring fifties to vindicate their decision to bat. Ahmed Shehzad (59 off 42 balls) had been part of a 52-run opening stand. Then he put on 57 runs with Hussain Talat, who remained unbeaten on 64 off 39 balls, including five fours and three sixes. A total of 165 may have looked good then, it wasn't a couple of hours later.
Ehsan Adil played only three balls, but in that short a time, he made sure Faisalabad Region hurtled to the finish line with two wickets and three balls to spare. Adil, known more for his bowling, hammered two fours and a six to help his team chase down a target of 179 and beat Abbottabad Region in Rawalpindi.
The foundation of the chase had been laid by No. 3 Khurram Shehzad's 59 off 39 balls and there was able support from No. 4 Asif Ali who struck 45 off 31. Legspinner Yasir Shah accounted for both men to bring Abbottabad back and fashion a lower-middle order panic. Even the reliable Misbah-ul-Haq could eke out only 14 off 12. The score slipped from 108 for 2 to 147 for 7. Junaid Khan, who had pried out the openers the very first over of the chase, produced a fine spell of bowling: 4-0-24-4.
But Adil was able to put in the big blows when the most counted. He had also been Faisalabad's best bowler was well with 3 for 33 in his four overs. Fifties from opener Yasir Hameed (59) and wicketkeeper Sajjad Ali (56) had dragged Abbottabad to a formidable total. One that ended up being just a few runs light.
Karachi Region Blues clinched a thriller against Islamabad Region by one wicket and two balls to spare in Rawalpindi. Needing six off the final over with two wickets in hand, Karachi lost Faraz Ahmed before Anwar Ali struck the fourth legal delivery from Zohaib Ahmed for six to seal the victory.
Karachi had lost regular wickets in their chase of 177, and were kept in the game by opener Khurram Manzoor, who made 62 off 42 balls with three sixes. Fawad Alam made 33 off 29, but Karachi slipped from 131 for 3 in the 15th over to 172 for 9, before Ali's winning six. Imad Wasim took 3 for 26 for Islamabad.
Having been asked to bat, Islamabad had got off to a poor start, losing both openers to Rumman Raees in the second over. However, upcoming batsmen Babar Azam, 43 off 31 balls, and Shahid Yousuf, who 57 off 39, helped Islamabad recover. They put on 93 for the third wicket and Zohaib's 26 off 14 lifted the score to 176 for 6. The target proved to be just within Karachi's reach, though.