KRL get on board, Faisalabad move to the top
Khan Research Laboratories clinched a two-wicket victory over Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited in Rawalpindi, holding their nerve to chase 127 in what was another day for the bowlers. SNGPL, 94 for 8 at stumps on day two, didn't go much further as Yasir Arafat claimed his seventh wicket - and 11th of the match - but it almost proved enough. Asad Ali backed his five wickets in the first innings with 4 for 49, and Samiullah Khan took three in a brave attempt to clinch a win. KRL's chase of 127 stuttered from the start, slipping to 22 for 4, but their captain, the former international Mohammad Wasim, batted till the end with 35 from 92 deliveries. Along the way he found support from Rizwan Ahmed (35) and Shoaib Akhtar (21), even though KRL lost two wickets just before the finish line. It was their first win of the season, and KRL now stand at four in the Group A points table.
Centuries by Khurram Manzoor and Shoaib Malik, one restrained the other urgent, spectacularly restored the balance between bat and ball before a late wicket gave Pakistan International Airlines the day's honours at the United Bank Limited sports complex. For two days the bowlers had done the damage, keeping two innings to small totals, but on the third Manzoor, Malik and Faisal Iqbal combined to turn a 106-run lead into a daunting target for Habib Bank Limited.. Manzoor and Iqbal (50) took the score from 77 for 3 to 201 for 4, after which Malik hit a run-a-ball, unbeaten 100 with 12 fours and four sixes in contrast to Manzoor's 270-ball 151. A declaration at 355 for 5 meant HBL needed 385 to win, and they lost Rafatullah Mohmand for a duck to close the day 35 for 1.
In Karachi, Sui Southern Gas Corporation snapped a threatening partnership early in the day and by stumps had extended their lead over National Bank of Pakistan to 330. Umar Amin and Fawad Alam had cracked run-a-ball half-centuries after NBP were in early trouble, but the two slowed down on day three and failed to build on their innings. Sohail Khan, SSGC's opening bowler, took five to help keep NBP to just 204. Mohammad Talha and Mohammad Aamer, NBP's new-ball pairing, shared five wickets in reply but an unbeaten 61 from the SSGC captain, Saeed Bin Nasir, proved a thorn in their side. With five wickets in hand, SSGC took stumps at 144 for 5. NBP are in danger of losing their No. 1 position.
Watchful centuries from Abid Ali and Raza Ali Dar made up most of the day's progress for Lahore Shalimar against Water and Power Development Authority at the Gaddafi Stadium. Abid moved from 101 overnight to 141, while Dar racked up a composed career-best 183 from 334 balls. Zulqarnain Haider, the wicketkeeper, contributed an unbeaten 48 as Lahore finished the day on 461 for 6, a lead of 130.
By the close of play on day three at the Quaid-e-Azam park, Pakistan Customs had reduced the deficit to 67 runs. Tanvir Ahmed's unbeaten 56 from the No. 8 spot had helped Karachi Whites take a 182-run lead as they finished on 368 - Fawad Khan taking 6 for 109 - and Customs finished the day on 115 for 3. A draw looms.
Faisalabad had few hassles in beating Quetta by an innings and 167 runs at the Iqbal Stadium, thereby going No. 1 in the Group B points table. Already hurt at 80 for 3 in reply to Faisalabad's 447 for 8, Quetta were bowled out for 173 and 107 on the same day. The wickets were shared right through Faisalabad's line-up, more spectacularly in the second innings, when Quetta were reduced to 53 for 7 at the hands of some tidy medium pace.
The fifth-placed helped Islamabad knock Abbottabad off the top of the table with an eight-wicket win at the Diamond Club Ground. Abbottabad's openers had whittled the deficit down to 49 by stumps on day two, only for the entire side to fold for 189 in 67.1 overs. Rauf Akbar removed Ghulam Mohammad and Usman Khan early before Saad Altaf (5 for 52) had some fun. Raheel Majeed's 21-ball 30 gave a small chase momentum, and Umair Khan's unbeaten 51 from 43 balls held firm for Islamabad, who pulled down 110 in just 15.2 overs - equating to a run rate of 7.17.
Rawalpindi wrapped up a win over Multan at the Marghzar Cricket Ground. The medium-pacer Rizwan Akbar made it 12 for the match with second-innings figures of 7 for 39 as Multan - 50 for 6 on the resumption of play - were bowled out for 93. Chasing 160, each of the first four batsmen got into the thirties and Rawalpindi knocked off the runs in 34.5 overs.
Sialkot stand on the verge of inflicting a crushing innings defeat on Hyderabad at the Jinnah Stadium. A first-innings lead was established early in the morning and the opener Naeemuddin made 173 from 323 balls, along with fifties to Nadeem Javed (61) and Mohammad Ayub (53). The tail wagged and Ayub declared at 540 for 9, a lead of 288. What followed was pure joy for Sialkot - the medium-pacers Sarmar Anwar (3 for 17) and Nadeem Javed (5 for 23) reduced Hyderabad to 59 for 8 in 25 overs before stumps.
The game remains poised at the National Stadium, where a few quick wickets for Karachi Blues could boost their chances of victory. Their tail wagged to extend an overnight lead of 151 to 222, and the late wicket of Lahore Ravi's Kashif Siddiq for 91 left Karachi holding on to a 44-run advantage by stumps. Lahore's openers had failed again, but Siddiq had steadily launched a fightback. After his dismissal, Lahore finished the day on 184 for 4.