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February 7, 2009
Sui Southern Gas Corporation squeezed out the advantage against Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited in Muridke. Led by an incisive opening spell from Rajesh Ramesh, SSGC dismissed ZTBL for 150 in 47.2 overs, and by stumps were 87 for 3. Ramesh grabbed four wickets with the new ball to leave ZTBL floundering at an incredible 7 for 5, after which former Pakistan international Wajahatullah Wasti (49) and the lower order stitched together small but significant stands to get the total to 150. In response, Iftikhar Anjum and Junaid Nadir combined to dent SSGS'c first innings, thus keeping the game within striking distance, and Asif Zakir and Saeed Bin Nasir have to really dig deep on day two.
Pakistan International Airlines had a good first day at the Lahore City Cricket Association Ground, rolling over Lahore Shalimar for 149 and finishing on 102 for 1. The new-ball pair of former Pakistan fast bowler Fazl-e-Akbar (4 for 46) and Najaf Shah (6 for 39) did for Lahore Shalimar, who could only bat for 59.3 overs. Shah became the highest wicket-taker of the season with his third five-or-more bag, and together with Fazl-e-Akbar decimated the opposition. From 26 for 6 Lahore Shalimar were resuscitated somewhat thanks to Mohammad Saad (48) and Muzammil Ikram (42) but Shah came back to cut through the lower order. Yasir Hameed then collected an unbeaten 70 from 74 balls, hitting 11 boundaries, and PIA closed the day on a high.
Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited rallied around a century from Azhar Shafiq to finish the first day of their clash with Habib Bank Limited at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on 281 for 5. HBL chose to field and made two relatively early breakthroughs, but were put on the back foot with a 139-run stand between Shafiq and Umar Akmal (63). Misbah-ul-Haq, the SNGPL captain, was unbeaten on 51 at stumps.
Khan Research Laboratories took the day's honours at the National Bank Sports Complex in Karachi. Karachi Whites opted to bat but could only meander to 263 for 8, as Yasir Arafat took five wickets to sustain them. Arafat sliced through the top order and if not for a breezy 87 from the captain Khalid Latif and patient 58 from Tanvir Ahmed down the order, Karachi Whites would have been long packed in. Latif and Asim Kamal, who has represented Pakistan, put on 99 for the fourth wicket but a double-strike from Akhtar Ayub put Karachi Whites on the back foot again. Arafat snapped up a couple wickets shortly before stumps.
At the Diamond Club Ground, hosts Islamabad did their chances of a third victory no harm with a superlative performance. Electing to field against last-placed Quetta, Islamabad skittled the opposition out for just 94 and by stumps had blasted out a lead of 107. With their new-ball operators having a ball, Islamabad didn't even need to opt for a third bowler - Rauf Akbar snare 6 for 64 and Saad Altaf took the other four wickets for just 30 runs. The two struck regular blows and combined to bowl Quetta out in 32.4 overs. Then, in response, they finished the opening day on 301 for 3 in just 48 overs; that equates to a run rate of 6.27. Leading the torment for Quetta was Islamabad's captain, Raheel Majeed (87 from 99 balls) and Zeeshan Mushtaq, who by stumps had helped himself to an unbeaten 112 from 106 balls. A grueling day awaits Quetta, yet to win a game all season.
Zahid Mansoor and Usman Saeed bailed Rawalpindi out of a jam against Hyderabad at the Niaz Stadium. The hosts chose to field and had Rawalpindi at 41 for 3, but the two centurions rallied with a 247-run stand. At stumps, Mansoor was batting on 117 and Saeed on 112, and Rawalpindi were sitting pretty at 288 for 3.
Sialkot did well to keep Abbottabad to 243 after electing to field on day one in Sheikhupura. Five of the six bowlers used got their names into the wickets column and there was only one half-century allowed, that to Rashid Mansoor (68). Abbottabad were put under early pressure and never really flourished against a disciplined attack. In the four overs before close, Sialkot's openers put on 20.
Faisalabad batted watchfully on day one against Karachi Blues in Sargodha, reaching 218 for 5 at the close. Imran Ali (55) and Usman Arshad (81) were the main proprietors of Faisalabad's total, and there was no real indication that the side wanted to get on with matters.
Lahore Ravi turned in a solid, if unspectacular, batting effort against Peshawar at the Arbab Niaz Stadium. There were four half-centurions in a total of 298 for 5 on day one, thus leaving the home side a tad disconsolate after they won the toss and chose to field.
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