Karachi Urban in strong position against Rawalpindi
Karachi Urban tamed the Rawalpindi attack and scored 284 for 2 on the opening day of their fifth-round Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Gold League match at the National Stadium on Thursday.
By stumps, Saeed Bin Nasir was unbeaten on 100 after Karachi's captain Hasan Raza chose to bat. It was Saeed's eight first-class hundred in 70 matches and he batted for three hours 40 minutes, faced 170 balls and hit 14 fours and a six. Asif Zakir was unbeaten on 76 off 181 balls with nine hits fours.
The unbroken third-wicket partnership between the pair yielded 184 runs, in 220 minutes off 350 deliveries. Earlier, Agha Sabir and Khurram Manzoor had given Karachi Urban a splendid 96-run opening partnership.
Rawalpindi captain Mohammad Wasim employed as many as eight bowlers including himself but fast bowlers Yasir Arafat and Sohail Tanvir were the only two who were successful.
After four matches Rawalpindi, who have never won a national cricket title before, had collected 21 points to go top of the Gold League table. Karachi Urban with 15 points are placed third in the seven-team ranking.
Defending champions Sialkot did their chances of qualifying for the Gold League final no good, when they scraped together 212 for 6 against Lahore Shalimar at the Jinnah Stadium on Thursday.
At one stage, after having been put in first, Sialkot were in dire straits having lost six wickets for 152 runs. It was an unbroken 60-run stand for the seventh wicket that helped them cross the 200 mark. Ayub Dogar and Tahir Mughal were at the crease at stumps. Earlier, opener Atiq-ur-Rehman had dominated the scoring with 70 off 139 balls with the help of 11 fours as Sialkot reached 127 for 2.
Fast bowler Junaid Zia, with figures of 3 for 33, bowled with spirit after Mohammad Khalil had made the first strike by removing Haafiz Majid Jahangir. Veteran left-arm spinner Mohammad Hussain later snared two victims.
Sialkot were led by former Pakistan batsman Ijaz Ahmed, who made a comeback to first-class cricket after an absence of six years, because Imran Nazir was called up to the ODI squad in South Africa. Sialkot had collected only 12 points from their previous three matches and are currently fifth in the seven-team table.
Faisalabad exploited Peshawar's dwindling form to their advantage, and dismissed them for 215 on the opening day at the Iqbal Stadium on Thursday. Faisalabad's openers added 39 runs by stumps.
Peshawar were rattled by fast bowlers Faisal Afridi and Asad Ali as they lost three wickets for 17 runs. Debutant Fawad Khan and Shoaib Khan then added 100 for the fourth wicket. Fawad scored 69 while Shoaib contributed 59. Later, captain Arshad Khan helped raise a score from 137 for 6 to 187.
While Faisal, Asad and offspinner Saeed Ajmal took two wickets each, medium-pacer Tauqeer Hussain restricted Peshawar's batsmen with figures of 4 for 47 from 12.4 overs.
Faisalabad are currently at the bottom of the Gold League table with two defeats in three matches and no points to their credit. They desperately need to lift themselves in order to avoid relegation to next season's Silver League circuit.
Peshawar were displaced by Rawalpindi at the top of the points table in the previous round. They are still at second place with 18 points, but lost two successive matches after having started with wins in their first two appearances.
With nothing at stake for either team, 14 wickets fell on the opening day of the Silver League match between Quetta and Hyderabad at the Niaz Stadium on Thursday. Quetta bowled out Hyderabad for 193 after they had opted to bat first. By the close of play, Quetta had slipped to 91 for 4.
But for wicketkeeper Hanif Malik's 90 off 148 balls with 11 fours and a six, Hyderabad might have fallen for less than 100. Hanif, who made his highest score in first-class cricket, arrived with his team at 65 for 5 and lifted them to 193.
While Quetta captain Faisal Irfan was hard working as usual with figures of 3 for 36, Zahoor Ahmed, a left-arm medium-pace bowler, captured 4 for 39.
Opener Shoaib Khan was still at the crease on 47 in Quetta's first innings. Hyderabad's most successful bowler this season, Farhan Ayub picked up three of the wickets to fall.
The Abbottabad pace attack bowled out Lahore Ravi for 162 at the Lahore City Cricket Association (LCCA) Ground on Thursday.
Abbottabad won the toss and invited Lahore to bat first on a placid wicket and exploited it to put pressure on Lahore. At stumps, Abbottabad were in a sound position, having reached 89 for 1 in 35.2 overs. After the departure of Ahmad Said, who made 44 with eight fours off 88 balls, Mohammad Naeem was unbeaten on 30 and Wajid Ali on 5.
Abbotabbad's pace trio of captain Sajid Shah, Nasir Jalil and Junaid Khan captured three wickets each and ripped through Lahore's innings in 55.3 overs. Lahore Ravi could not find any notable support from their key batsmen but number nine batsman Wasim Khan shone with a fighting half-century.
Wasim gave some respectability to the total with a solid knock that included one six and eight fours after Ali Azmat made 24 and Adnan Raza contributed 23. Six of Lahore's batsmen failed to reach double figures.
Abbottabad, with 12 points from their previous four matches, still have an outside chance to nose ahead of Multan into the Silver League, in case they gain an outright win against Lahore Ravi.
Azhar Mahmood century boosted Islamabad to 314 against Multan on the opening day at the Diamond Club Ground on Thursday.
Azhar Mahmood's 105 off 183 balls with 14 fours, was the seventh hundred of his 142-match first-class career, but the remainder of his team didn't do too well. Bilal Asad and debutant Asadullah Sumari chipped in with 49.
Azhar's fifth-wicket partnership with Asadullah produced 112 runs. Opener Atif Ashraf was injured early on and had to retire hurt. He resumed later in the innings and remained unbeaten with 20 runs. For Multan, pace bowler Abdul Rauf took 3 for 63 from 18 overs.
By the draw of stumps, Multan had lost one wicket in for 26 in eight overs. Opener Usman Tariq has retired hurt without having opening his account.
With the full 36 points from their previous four matches, Islamabad have already qualified for the Silver League final, scheduled to be played from February 7. Multan, second in the table with 21 points, appear the team most likely to be in that match alongside Islamabad. The winners of the Silver League competition will be promoted to the Gold League circuit of the next season.