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October 31, 2009
Habib Bank Limited (HBL) secured their place at the top of the points table with a four-wicket win over National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) at the Gaddafi Stadium . NBP had their moments when they had HBL in a spot of bother in their chase of 199 but captain Hasan Raza's brisk unbeaten 76 off 77 balls had the final say. Resuming on 121 for 7, NBP failed to extend their lead by a bigger margin after they lost their last three wickets for the addition of 18 runs. Left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman finished with figures of 4 for 10. Uzair-ul-Haq and Mohammad Asif combined to make HBL work hard in their chase, reducing them to 88 for 5. But Raza and Taufeeq Umer added a brisk 107 for the sixth wicket to see them through.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) joined Habib Bank Limited at the top of the points table with a ten-wicket win over Karachi Whites at the National Stadium. Karachi began the day with a very slender lead with six wickets down and it was all a question of survival. However, the overnight batsmen, Atif Ali and Babar Rehman, couldn't stick around long enough for a fight. Ali Imran and Aizaz Cheema removed the pair and bowled out Karachi for 276. PIA were left to chase just 37 for victory and it was an easy task for their openers.
It was a much closer affair in Rawalpindi as Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) huffed and puffed to a two-wicket win against Khan Research Laboratories (KRL). Resuming on 182 for 6, the hosts managed to add only 33 to their overnight score. Kashif Daud and Azhar Attari bowled out the tail for 215, setting their team a competitive 232 on the final day. The ZTBL openers began steadily, adding 41, before Yasir Arafat struck twice. Arafat's regular strikes brought KRL right back into the game. He even accounted for Zohaib Khan, who blazed to 43 of 19 balls. It was game on at 147 for 6 and a lot depended on Wajahatullah Wasti, the captain, to knock off the remaining runs. He was joined by Junaid Nadir at the fall of the eighth wicket and the pair saw ZTBL through those tense moments with a stand of 19.
Quetta picked up their first win of the season by edging out Islamabad in a tense finish at the Diamond Club Ground. When the day began Islamabad needed 33 runs, while Quetta required two wickets. It was slow going as No. 6 Ameer Kham and Shehzad Azam took their time to add 11 runs. Fast bowler Arun Lal then completed his five-wicket haul by dismissing Azam, and last man Nasrullah Khan was run out for an eight-ball duck to leave Ameer stranded. Islamabad ended 21 runs short.
Peshawar battled valiantly in their chase of a tough 369 against Hyderabad but were bowled out for 306 at the Lahore Country Club. Their hero on Friday, Mohammad Fayyaz, added 29 runs to his overnight score to complete his century, but then fell to offspinner Hanif-ur-Rehman. From a healthy 200 for 3, Peshawar lost four wickets for 25 runs to wreck their chances, with Rehman being their main tormentor. Nauman Habib resisted with a brisk 61, but he too was dismissed by Rehman, who polished off the tail to finish with six wickets.
As expected, it was a draw at the Iqbal Stadium, but not a dull one. Powered by Zeeshan Asif (145*), Faisalabad clobbered 77 runs in the day's first 11 overs to set Lahore Ravi a target of 307. Lahore had to play out 70 overs to secure a draw, something they nearly failed to accomplish. They never went after the win, content to block out for a stalemate, but a steady fall of wickets left them sweating. Four batsmen went past 20, but no one hung around for a half-century, leaving their No. 9 and No. 10 to play out a nervy final few overs.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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