Akmal heroics in vain as KRL play out thrilling tie
The business end of the tournament began with a tie between Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) at the Sheikhupura Stadium. Chasing 268, KRL were on course to win after a middle-order slide with Ali Khan slamming a 30-ball 54, but the ninth-wicket pair of Zulfiqar Jan and Saeed Ajmal failed to see their side through.
NBP, after being asked to bat first, were powered by Kamran Akmal's 118 and Naumanullah's 66. The pair added 190 for the third wicket before Yasir Arafat took 5 for 42 to bowl them out just before the 50 overs. Akmal's knock included 11 fours and three sixes while Naumanullah hit seven fours in his 87-ball knock. Saeed Anwar Jnr and Ali Naqvi led the chase with half-centuries and KRL progressed well thanks to their stand of 131 for the second wicket. However, the middle order succumbed to Qaier Abbas' left-arm spin and Akmal made a strong impact behind the stumps as well by claiming five victims, which included four stumpings. Khan revived the chase from 178 for 5 and smashed five sixes in his knock but his efforts weren't enough to seal the victory.
An undefeated ninth-wicket stand of 57 between Yasir Ali and Mohammad Rameez guided Rawalpindi Rams to a tense two-wicket win against Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) in Lahore. Chasing a modest 202, the Rams had all but lost it at 148 for 8 before the pair combined to see their side home in the 45th over. Rameez compiled a run-a-ball 27 with four fours and a six while Ali's 26 off 36 balls included three fours. Earlier, WAPDA failed to bat out their fifty overs, with Aamer Sajjad op scoring with 49. Babbar Naeem, the left-arm spinner, finished with 3 for 50.
Habib Bank Limited (HBL) began their Super Eights campaign with a three-wicket win over Lahore Eagles at the National Stadium in Karachi. Shahid Afridi wrecked the Eagles with figures of 5 for 49 and rounded off a solid all-round performance with a quickfire 45 off 29 balls as his side chased down 220 with more than seven overs to spare. Aftab Alam and Younis Khan too compiled 40s to back Afridi's effort.
For the Eagles, Ahmed Shehzad and Ashraf Ali compiled half-centuries after they were sent in to bat. The innings wobbled at 157 for 7 before an eighth-wicket stand of 52 lifted the score past 200. Junaid Zia, the right-arm seamer, inflicted early blows in HBL's chase to reduce them to 49 for 3 before the middle order stepped up. Younis missed his half-century by a run, Alam compiled 40 off 62 balls, while Afridi slammed two sixes and a four in his knock before Zia returned to dismiss him and finish with figures of 4 for 45.
A half-century by the opener Khurram Manzoor helped Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) ease to a six-wicket win against Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) at the National Bank of Pakistan Sports Complex. Manzoor scored 68 off 90 balls with nine fours to lay the platform for PIA to chase down a modest 206. Fahad Iqbal chipped in with 40 while Faisal Iqbal finished with an unbeaten 39 to seal the victory in 46.4 overs. Earlier, SNGPL were rescued by Tauqeer Hussain's battling 51 at No.8 after the innings wobbled at 96 for 6. The PIA seam attack of Anwar Ali, Najaf Shah and Ali Imran claimed three wickets each.