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March 21, 2009
Group BIslamabad Leopards beat Faisalabad Wolves by four wickets in a low-scoring encounter at the Diamond Club ground to go top of Group B. Each bowler in the Islamabad line-up chipped in to bowl out Faisalabad for 179, after the visitors had got a solid start. None of the Faisalabad batsmen could convert their starts, three of them crossed 25 but no one reached 40. Offspinner Kamran Hussain was the most successful Islamabad bowler, cleaning up the tail to finish with 4 for 18.
The home side's chase also began well, the openers putting on 62. There was a slight wobble when Islamabad lost three wickets for 14 to slide to 123 for 5. Offspinner Mohammad Laeeq, who had triggered that collapse, also stifled the runs to finish with figures of 10-1-17-3, but Ashar Zaidi's brisk 32 was enough to take Islamabad to the brink of victory, before Kamran Hussain and Rauf Akbar completed the job with 9.2 overs to spare.
In another contest in which offspinners had a big role to play, Lahore Lions beat Sialkot Stallions by 88 runs at the Lahore Country Club to pick up their first win of the campaign. In a match reduced to 35-overs-a-side, they got off to a poor start after being asked to bat, losing opener Ashfaq Ahmed for a duck. However, aggressive half-centuries from Kashif Siddiq (74) and Sohail Ahmed (56) put them in a strong position and cameos from Waqas Ahmed and Shahnawaz Malik took them to an imposing 241.
Sialkot made a bright start to their reply, despite losing opener Kamran Younis early, with Naeemuddin and Salman Ali motoring along at strike-rates in the 130s. However both were dismissed on 55, and Sialkot lost their momentum. Ayaz Tasawwar scratched around for 27 balls to make 10, while Mohammad Ayub needed 53 deliveries for his 35. Offspinner Usman Malik secured the victory by taking four wickets - Sialkot's final five going down for 11 runs.
In a high-scoring encounter at the Marghzar Cricket Ground, Pakistan International Airlines beat Sui Southern Gas Corporation by six wickets to seal their second consecutive win. Set a challenging target of 199 in 30 overs, belligerent half-centuries Sarfraz Ahmed and Yasir Hameed laid the platform for PIA's chase. Opener Sarfraz slammed three sixes and five fours in a 41-ball 54 while Hameed was a touch more sedate, making his 67 at a run-a-ball. They were still 35 runs away when Hameed was dismissed but Shoaib Malik chipped in with a 15-ball 17 and Kamran Sajid (21) stayed till the end to make sure there were no hiccups.
Earlier, opener Asif Zakir's 73-ball 80 had been the bedrock of SSGC's batting effort. No one else made more than 30, but cameos from Mohtashim Ali and Ashraf Ali had taken them close to 200. Medium-pacer Fazl-e-Akbar was the most effective of the PIA bowlers, taking 3 for 36 in his six overs.
In Rawalpindi, Saeed Anwar jnr's unbeaten 154 took Khan Research Laboratories to an emphatic eight-wicket victory over Pakistan Customs. Anwar's 126-ball effort had 23 fours and a six and he dominated his 196-run association with Azhar Ali for the second wicket. Azhar contributed 67, hitting five boundaries in a watchful 81-ball effort. Anwar really opened out towards the end; Rizwan Ahmed made only 3 in an unbeaten 43-run stand that took KRL to the target of 245 with 12.3 overs to spare.
Anwar had played a part with the ball as well, taking three wickets in 2.4 overs to wrap up the Customs innings. Offspinner Saeed Ajmal was also among the wickets, taking three including that of opener Jibran Khan who top scored with a cautious 86. Captain Rameez Raja was the other major contributor, making a 62-ball 55, but their efforts were put in the shade by Anwar's blitz.
At the Iqbal Stadium, Water and Power Development Authority prevailed over National Bank of Pakistan in a batsmen-dominated cliffhanger. Chasing 304, WAPDA were well on course after openers Jahangir Mirza (96) and Shahid Yousuf (69) put on 157. Captain Mohammad Yousuf had guided the side to 205 for 1 after which they stumbled, losing five wickets for 20 runs. They had slipped further to 252 for 8 before Mustafa Iqbal and Ahmed Said made 26 each to bring WAPDA back on track. Said remained unbeaten to shepherd WAPDA to victory off the penultimate ball.
The target had been set up by a pair of half-centuries from the in-form Fawad Alam (77) and Naumanullah (68). The pair's efforts were sandwiched by opener Nasir Jamshed's 33-ball 39, which provided the early impetus, and Mansoor Amjad's 32-ball 40, which kept the run-rate up towards the end of the innings. While the batsmen had done their job for NBP, it was their vaunted bowling attack, which includes Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Talha, which let them down.
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