All-round Gul puts Habib Bank on top
The tables turned on the second day in Karachi, as Habib Bank fought back to seize control against Khan Research Laboratories (KRL). KRL were sitting pretty at 78 for 1, but Pakistan's internationals stepped up to the task, Umar Gul and Danish Kaneria taking seven wickets between them to cause a collapse. Saeed Anwar jnr top scored for KRL with 57, but his effort didn't prevent his team from losing nine wickets for 52 to collapse to 130 all out, conceding a lead of 92. Taufeeq Umar then piled the agony with an unbeaten 90, and Gul, who starred in an all-round effort, gave him solid support in an unfinished stand of 59. Habib Bank are in an excellent position with a lead of 287.
Karachi Whites emerged on top against Pakistan Customs at the Southend Club Cricket Stadium. After posting 234, they were boosted by fast bowler Tabish Khan who raced through the Pakistan Customs batting line-up with figures of 5 for 51. He was backed up by medium-pacers Akbar-ur-Rehman (2 for 38) and Ali Mudassar (3 for 9), who helped bowl out the opposition for a paltry 106 to gain a lead of 128. Karachi Whites then built up that figure to 265 a stumps, with contributions of 55 from opener Naved Khan and 41 from captain Afsar Nawaz.
An unbeaten 154 from Fawad Alam put National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) in a dominant position against Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) in Lahore. NBP began the day on 155 for 4, but slipped early in the day, losing three wickets for just 23. But Alam, who scored at a fair clip with a strike-rate of 81.05, received excellent support from Mohammed Aamer; the pair added 87 for the eighth wicket. Largely due to their effort, NBP gained a first-innings lead of 188. They inflicted more damage on WAPDA later in the day, as they reduced them to 128 for 4 at stumps, still 60 runs adrift. WAPDA captain Aamer Sajjad remained unbeaten on 70, and his presence in the middle will be crucial if his team is to set a testing target.
The series of low scores continued, as Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL), led by offspinner Saeed Ajmal's 4 for 53, bowled out Lahore Shalimar for 165 to gain a first-innings lead of 99 at the Lahore City Cricket Association Ground. Imran Nazir then played a typically explosive innings, smacking 71 in 45 balls, to help extend that lead to 213 at stumps, as ZTBL finished the day at a comfortable 114 for 3.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) held the advantage against Sui Southern Gas Corporation (SSGC) at the United Bank Limited Sports Complex. Their lower order chipped in with important cameos to lift their total to 320 - fast bowler Sohail Khan took 5 for 102. Left-arm seamer Najaf Shah, medium-pacer Aizaz Cheema and Shoaib Malik then bagged two wickets each to leave SSGC reeling at 127 for 6 at stumps, still 193 adrift. SSGC captain Saeed Bin Nasr top scored with 49, and though other batsmen, too, got starts, they weren't able to push on, as PIA struck at frequent intervals.
Hyderabad submitted tamely to Rawalpindi on the second day in Islamabad. Rawalpindi captain Naved Ashraf took his team to a mammoth 531 by continuing to frustrate the opposition by stringing useful partnerships with the tail. He scored his maiden double-century, ending the day with 230, and put together 106 with Rashid Latif, who earned himself 50. Naiumun Khan and Pir Zulfiqur took seven wickets between them for Hyderabad, but at a heavy price. With the ball, Rawalpindi were even more ruthless and needed just three bowlers to clean up Hyderabad for 96. Fast bowler Mohammad Rameez grabbed 5 for 42, while Latif and Haseeb Azam shared the remaining scalps to hand their team a lead of 435. Hyderabad, unsurprisingly, were asked to follow on, and look good to better their first-innings score, reaching 96 for 2 at stumps.
Karachi Blues and Abbottabad fought out an evenly-contested day at the Abbottabad Cricket Stadium. Seamer Junaid Khan was the star for Abbottabad, taking 7 for 94 to run through the Karachi middle and lower orders; Karachi lost their last six wickets for just 54. In their reply, Mohammad Sami's double-strike had limited Abbottabad to 80 for 3, but Mohammad Kashif (49) and Riaz Kail (42) put on 98 for the fourth wicket to revive the innings. The extras played their part, Karachi were miserable conceding 46, to take Abbottabad to 211 for 5 at stumps.
Imran Ali carried his bat through the Faisalabad innings - but his unbeaten 90 was an indication that others didn't step up at the Iqbal Stadium. Starting the day on a precarious 23 for 3, Faisalabad folded for 188 against Multan with seamer Abdur Rauf taking 5 for 76. Only wicketkeeper Mohammad Salman, with 41, was able to lend support to Imran, as Faisalabad conceded a lead of 49. At stumps, Multan were sitting comfortably, with an unbeaten 52 from opener Ghulam Fareed taking them to 93 for 1.
Lahore Ravi, thanks to an epic 178 from opener Kashif Siddiq, held the edge against Sialkot in Muridke. Siddiq scored more than half the Lahore score of 328, and was assisted down the order by Mohammad Asim (43) and Mohammad Irshad (20). The Sialkot batsmen, in their response, got starts but were unable to push on. Kamran Younis made 22, Suleman Ali was trapped in front for 21 and only Mohammad Yasin lived to survive the next day with an unbeaten 21, as Sialkot limped to 79 for 3.
Quetta fought back strongly on the second day against Peshawar at the National Ground to leave the game on even terms. Seamers Nazar Hussain (4 for 80) and Arun Lal (3 for 62), and left-arm spinner Jalat Khan (3 for 24) split the ten Quetta wickets to bowl them out for 213, conceding a lead of just six runs. At 200 for 5, it seemed Quetta were on their way to retaining the advantage, but the lower-order surrender meant there was little to choose between the teams at stumps. Quetta, looking to post a challenging target, finished the day on 12 for no loss.