NBP and HBL look set for wins
Naumnaullah and Shahid Yousuf scored centuries as National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) set Pakistan Customs a steep target of 410 runs to attain an improbable win on the final day of the eighth round at the NBP Sports Complex. After having gained a slender 23-run first-innings lead over their opponents, NBP hammered 386 for the loss of only three wickets in their second innings and had Customs struggling at 52 for two at close. Naumanullah, fresh from his century in each innings during the previous match against Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) at the same venue, scored his third hundred in succession and fourth in the tournament. His 136 came off 223 balls with 12 fours and a six while Yousuf's unbeaten 125 took 212 deliveries with the help of seven fours and four sixes. Customs face a daunting task of improving on their first-innings total considerably - where only three of their batsmen reached double figures - to save the match.
Hyderabad set up the prospects of their first win of the tournament when they gave third-placed WAPDA an improbable target of 458 runs to win at Niaz Stadium. After having gained a big 167 run first-innings lead over WAPDA, bottom placed Hyderabad scored 290 for five in their second innings with vital contributions from all batsmen before declaring. Faisal Athar top scored with 92. At close, WAPDA were six for no loss in reply.
Table leaders Habib Bank Limited (HBL) were left with a modest target of 132 runs for victory by Multan at the Multan Cricket Stadium after having dismissed the hosts for 196 in their second innings. A disastrous start saw Multan lose their first three wickets for only ten runs and, having stabilised in the middle with three 30-plus scores, lost their last four wickets for 12 runs. At close, the HBL openers had reduced the target by seven runs without being separated.
Sialkot played well to claim a first-innings lead of 18 even after losing their last five wickets for 37 runs while chasing Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC)'s 269 at Jinnah Stadium. Sohail Khan picked up three of the last wickets to finish with figures of five for 86 - and took his tournament tally to 43 - as SSGC scored 74 for one in their second innings.
Karachi Whites opening batsman Asad Shafiq was unbeaten on 197 against Faisalabad as the tourists replied with a 330 for five at Iqbal Stadium. With only one more day to go, a draw looked certain on the card although the Karachi team still need another 170 runs to overhaul the home team's total. Asad, who scored a century on his first-class debut in October, scored his second century of his career as no other Karachi batsmen, bar his opening partner Khalid Latif, contributed much.
With only one day remaining in the match at the KRL Stadium, Karachi Blues still required another 187 runs to attain a first-innings lead over KRL after having gone into close at 217 for seven. Resuming at their overnight 347 for five in a rain-stricken encounter, KRL declared at 403 for seven soon after Bilal Asad had reached his half-century. In reply, most of Karachi's batsmen got starts but didn't go on to make big scores as only Shadab Kabir (54), Karachi's captain, wicker-keeper Mohammad Masroor (56) scored half-centuries.
Table leaders Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) may eventually have to settle for only the three first-innings lead points as Lahore Shalimarreached 315 for six at the Gaddafi Stadium. Facing a huge PIA total of 564 for five declared, most Lahore batsmen got among the runs and a 101-run fifth-wicket partnership between Suleman Khan and Ali Raza proved significant. Suleman top scored with 82 off 137 balls with 12 fours while Ali Raza's unbeaten 60 has come off 102 balls with seven boundaries.
At the Arbab Niaz Stadium, hosts Peshawar had Quetta following-on after being dismissed for 143 in reply to Peshawar's 307. Quetta, however, fared better in their second innings through an unbroken 88-run third-wicket partnership between Hameedullah Khan (40) and Samiullah Agha (61) as they went into close 46 runs behind Peshawar.
In the rain-hit match at the Mirpur Cricket Stadium, Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) declared at 326 for nine, looking for at least the first-innings lead points against Rawalpindi.They had lost six wickets with only 154 runs before a seventh-wicket stand of 93 between Faisal Naved (80) and Zohaib Khan (53 not out) rescued them. Rawalpindi replied with 22 for one by close.