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January 7, 2007
Fawad Alam and Fahad Iqbal's crucial hundreds from the middle order lifted Karachi Urban out of a tight spot to a solid 333 for 8 against Karachi Harbour at the National Stadium. Electing to bat, Karachi Urban were quickly reduced to 39 for 4 courtesy opening bowler Rajesh Ramesh's three-wicket burst, but Alam and Iqbal fought back with an excellent 222-run partnership in just over three-and-a-half hours. Fawad, who excelled in the recent Twenty20 competition, carried over his form with a 175-ball 110. For Iqbal, 20, it was triumph of a different sort, as his 107 was the first hundred of his brief five-match career. Sarfraz Ahmed, the wicketkeeper and former Pakistan Under-19 captain, chipped in with an unbeaten 32 at later in the day. For Karachi Harbour, Ramesh finished with 4 for 88 in 25 overs.
A vital lower order rally helped Faisalabad recover from a top-order wobble and finish the first day against Lahore Shalimar on 256 for 9 at the Gaddafi Stadium. Salman Butt won the toss and elected to bowl, and the new-ball pairing of Mohammad Khalil and Junaid Zia quickly had Faisalabad at 18 for 3. Misbah-ul-Haq (30) and Naved Latif (30), used some of their international experience to begin a fight back, but Khalil and Zia cut them short. It was then down to Ijaz Ahmed Junior (41), Ahmed Hayat (45) and Ali Raza, whose unbeaten 56 was the first fifty of his career, to regain lost ground. Raza, 19, faced 73 deliveries and hit eight fours a six in an 81-run stand for the eighth wicket with Hayat. Khalil and Zia finished with 4 for 48 and 4 for 37 respectively.
Riaz Afridi's five-wicket haul helped Peshawar dismiss hosts Rawalpindi for 230 on the opening day of their four-day match. Naved Ashraf, who played two Tests for Pakistan, top-scored with 97, but otherwise it was slim pickings from Rawalpindi's batting lineup. Fazl-e-Akbar and Arshad Khan, both former Pakistan bowlers, picked up two wickets apiece in the rout, but it was Afridi's 5 for 69 that did the most damage. In reply, Peshawar lost opener Jannisar Khan for 0 before before bad light stopped play two overs early.
Unbeaten centuries from Usman Tariq and Kamran Hussain boosted hosts Multan to a very comfortable 372 for 3 on the first day's play of their Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match against Quetta. Quetta's decision to bowl first looked to have been vindicated when Faisal Irfan, the new-ball bowler, grabbed two quick wickets, but Usman and Kamran had other plans. The duo dug in for an invaluable fourth-wicket stand of 278 in good time, with Usman, 23, finishing on an unbeaten 152 - his tenth first-class century - and Kamran on 149 from 170 balls, the second of his career.
Kashif Siddiq, Lahore Ravi's captain, bailed his side out of trouble with a fine 102 out of a total of 265 on day one against Hyderabad at the Niaz Stadium. Lahore struggled to forge consistent partnerships, as the right-arm-left-arm spin duo Nasir Awais (3 for 65) and Nauman Ali (3 for 41) combined to turn on the pressure. Adnan Raza, the young left-handed batsman, offered support with 54 in a 108-run stand for the third wicket, but Nauman's three wickets saw Lahore's last five batsmen fold for just 16 runs. In reply, the hosts progressed to 28 for 2 by stumps, Wasim Khan and Imran Ali, both right-arm medium pacers, picking up a wicket each.
Those waiting to see Shoaib Akhtar in action on the domestic front had to wait another day, as hosts Islamabad racked up 350 for 1 against Abbottabad at the Diamond Club Ground. Sajid Shah, Abbottabad's captain and opening bowler, inserted Islamabad on a docile pitch and could only look on as openers Atif Ashraf (177 not-out) and Afaq Raheem (121) smashed 285. Ashraf, 26, hit 24 boundaries in his 278-ball effort, his first three-figure score, while Raheem, 21, collected 13 boundaries and faced 217 balls. Sajid finally removed Raheem, but Bilad Asad (31 not out) complimented Ashraf to add a further 65 and rub in the woe.
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