Sialkot dominate opening day of final round
Group AIn Sheikhupura, Water and Power Development Authority managed to bowl out Habib Bank Limited for 202 despite opener Imran Farhat's 100. Apart from captain Hasan Raza's 31, there was not much support from the other batsmen for Farhat after HBL were put in. They were reduced to 29 for 3, with the rest in the top four besides Farhat scoring 1, 0 and 0. Farhat then combined with Raza to take them past 100, but HBL lost wickets regularly once Raza was out. WAPDA opening bowlers Naved-ul-Hasan and Azharullah took three wickets each. WAPDA lost opener Salman Akbar for 15 before closing at 29 for 1 in 15 overs.
Second-placed Khan Research Laboratories were also dismissed for 200-odd after being asked to bat by Pakistan Customs, but Sohail Tanvir managed to wrest back the initiative with three strikes before close in Mirpur. Farhan Ayub snared 5 for 86 and fellow medium-pacers Aamer Yousuf and Waqas Qudratullah scalped two wickets each to restrict KRL to 208. Ali Naqvi top scored with 64, and rescued his team along with Bazid Khan (37) after they were reeling at 69 for 5. No. 9 Yasir Ali's quick 23 was only the fourth double-digit score in the innings. KRL, however, lost their last five wickets for 51. Tanvir then removed Pakistan Customs' top three to leave them at 67 for 3 at stumps. KRL are six points adrift of leaders National Bank of Pakistan.
National Bank of Pakistan were also put in by defending champions Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited at Multan Cricket Stadium, but three half-centuries from the top four helped the Group A leaders to 248 for 4 at close on the first day. No. 3 Umar Amin made 84 - he had scored 85 in the second innings in NBP's previous game - and strung together 85 with opener Nasir Jamshed (51). Naumanullah chipped in with 55. Left-armer Samiullah Khan took 2 for 41 off 21 overs.
An unbeaten 112 from Fahad Iqbal helped Pakistan International Airlines score 291 for 7 on the opening day against Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited at Faisalabad's Iqbal Stadium. Put in, PIA were reduced to 52 for 3 before Fahad combined with Kamran Sajid (45) for a 107-run partnership. Wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed, fresh off his two half-centuries in PIA's recent two-wicket win over SNGPL, made a brisk 65, but ZTBL bounced back with three wickets in the space of 12 runs, with Afaq Raheem striking twice in his two overs. Iftikhar Anjum and Iftikhar Anjum also picked up two wickets.
Abid Ali made 114 and Sheraz Butt scored 96 to help Lahore Shalimar reach 270 for 4 in 83 overs on the first day against Sui Southern Gas Corporation at Lahore City Cricket Association Ground. The two put on a 211-run stand after Lahore lost two early wickets. Abid hit 16 fours; Butt was more patient but missed out on his maiden first-class ton. Murad Khan took 3 for 51 for SSGC.
Group BTop-placed Sialkot dominated the first day against Faisalabad at the Jinnah Stadium, dismissing the visitors for 122 and ending the day 39 runs in the advantage with seven first-innings wickets still in hand. Sarmad Anwar, Bilawal Bhatti and Nayyer Abbas grabbed three wickets each as Faisalabad, put in, were dismissed in 44.2 overs. Top-scorer Mohammad Salman was the only batsman to make it past 25, scoring 39. Zahoor Khan struck twice to leave Sialkot wobbling at 59 for 3, but an unbroken 102-run stand steadied the hosts. Haris Sohail made a quick 61 off 70 balls, while Bilal Azmat was also unbeaten at stumps on 44.
It was the day of the medium-pacers as 20 wickets tumbled on the first day of the clash between Peshwar and third-placed Rawalpindi at the Arbab Niaz Stadium. Peshawar captain Nauman Habib would have rued his decision to bat first after the fast-bowling trio of Rizwan Akbar, Mohammad Rameez and Sadaf Hussain ran riot, leaving the innings in tatters at 62 for 8. It was Riaz Afridi's 66 and the 93-run partnership with Nauman (39) that helped Peshwar save face by reaching 156. Rizwan was the most successful bowler for Rawalpindi with 4 for 26. In reply, Rawalpindi were off on the wrong foot with Waqar Ahmed trapping Hamid Riaz early on. The bowler got good support from Riaz, and the Rawalpindi batsmen failed to put up any resistance. Zahid Mansoor was the top scorer with 33 as Rawalpindi were shot out for 157, the slenderest of leads. Waqar picked up a five-wicket haul while Riaz finished with 4 for 31. Rawalpindi need a win to have any chance of upstaging Sialkot for a place in the final.
Twin centuries from Ashraf Ali and Sohail Ahmed helped Lahore Ravi post a strong 284 for 5 against second-placed Islamabad at the Diamond Club Ground. Islamabad, who also need a win to move ahead of Sialkot, put Lahore in. A partnership of 51 between openers Sohail and Raza Ali was followed by three strikes from Saad Altaf, the leading wicket-taker in the tournament so far. But an 89-run fourth-wicket stand between Sohail and Ashraf followed. Sohail hit 11 boundaries in his steady 102, before he was caught by Imad Wasim off Raheel Majeed. The day ended with Irfan Zaman's dismissal, while Ashraf remained unbeaten on 111.
Nasrullah Memon's half-century firmed up bottom-placed Hyderabad against Karachi Blues on the first day at the Nawabshah Cricket Stadium. Choosing to bat, Hyderabad openers Aqeel Anjum and Azeem Ghumman put on 38 for the opening wicket before offspinner Tabish Nawab tore into the top order. He dismissed the openers and then had Abid Ali caught by Mohammad Faheem for 4. But Nasrullah continued strongly, eventually finishing with 70 off 110 balls. Tabish Khan then struck twice to leave Hyderabad at 244 for 7.
A hundred for wicketkeeper Fawad Khan and a half-century from captain Ghulam Mohammad took Abbottabad to 295 for 5 against Multan at Okara. Ansar Javed gave Multan the early breakthrough after they chose to field, removing opener Adnan Raees for 10. In the first of three crucial partnerships thereafter, Ghulam added 66 for the second wicket with Hamman Ali and put on a third-wicket stand of 75 with Fawad. He fell leg-before to Zulfiqar Babar for 64, stroking 11 fours in his 146-ball innings. Fawad added 110 with Mohammad Kashif and brought up his century. Babar had Fawad caught and bowled, but not before he had struck 19 boundaries and a six in his 111. Rehan Afridi (10) and Rahim Khan (1) then guided Abbottabad through to stumps.