Mohammad Aslam helps HBL stay on top
Mohammad Aslam's stellar all-round performance ensured Habib Bank Limited (HBL) held on to top spot with a thumping win against Sui Southern Gas Corporation (SSGC) in Khan Research Laboratory. Undefeated on 26 from the previous day, his well-compiled 74 helped HBL extend their first-innings lead to 158. The left-arm spinner then combined well with fast man Abdur Rehman, and the two picked up four wickets apiece to bowl out SSGC for 144, ensuring the innings win by the 76th over of the day.
Samiullah Khan's 7 for 55 helped Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) crush Pakistan Customs by ten wickets at the Marghzar Cricket Ground. Avoiding an innings defeat was first on Customs' minds as they resumed guard on 36 for 3, but Samiullah was relentless with his left-arm pace, adding four more wickets to his overnight tally of three. The target of 23 was polished off duly in 3.1 overs by the SNGPL openers Adnan Akmal and Naeemuddin, as they kept the pressure up on HBL at the top of the table.
Right-arm fast bowler Anwar Ali ran through the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) batting lineup to hand Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) a convincing win at the Iqbal Stadium. Openers Umar Amin (59) and Rashid Riaz (86) consolidated from their overnight 79 for no loss, still needing 186 to win, but Anwar Ali was unstoppable as he dented the middle and lower orders, wrapping up proceedings soon after 60 overs in the day and lifting PIA to third in the points table.
It was the eighth-wicket pair of Saad Nasim (86) and Mohammad Saeed (96) that saved Lahore Shalimar from their fifth consecutive defeat of the season, against Karachi Whites at the Gaddafi Stadium. Resuming on 53 for 1, Lahore were anchored by Suleman Khan's patient 57, before Nasim and Saeed took centrestage. The two put on 181, after Karachi fast bowler Tabish Khan had them in trouble with 6 for 110. From a no-hope situation of 182 for 7, they ended on 364 for 9 to deny Karachi full points.
A predictable draw was played out at the Jinnah Stadium between Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and Zarai Tarqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) after no play was possible on the third day. ZTBL got some batting pratice as both teams never really got going. From 16 for no loss, ZTBL grafted away to reach 248 for 6, still 198 behind WAPDA's first-innings total. Both teams gained zero points from the fixture.
Half-centuries by Raheel Majeed and Ali Sarfraz helped Islamabad to a draw against Rawalpindi at the Diamond Club Ground. Earlier, Babar Naeem and Adnan Mufti made fifties to stretch Rawalpindi's lead to 339 before the declaration at 252 for 5. Naeem made 64 while Mufti fell 13 short of his century. A draw only seemed inevitable as Rawalpindi didn't have too many overs to bowl out the opposition. In the 33 overs they had to bat, Majeed and Sarfraz hit brisk fifties. Majeed scored at more than a run a ball during his 75 while Sarfraz remained unbeaten on 50. Rawalpindi, however, retained their No.2 position in the points table thanks to the first-innings points they gained from this game.
Ijaz Ahmed jnr and Saadat Munir shared nine wickets between them to set up Faisalabad's easy eight-wicket win against Quetta at Sargodha, their first win in the competition. The best possible outcome for Quetta, given the scenario at the end of the third day, was a draw but they failed to protect their wickets long enough to keep the opposition at bay. The overnight pair of Shoaib Khan jnr and Faisal Irfan resisted for a while, compiling a century and a fifty respectively. But Munir and Ijaz had the final say as Quetta were dismissed for 264, leaving Faisalabad a target of 82, which they achieved after losing just two wickets. Ijaz finished with 5 for 5 for 57 while Munir, the left-arm spinner, took 4 for 26.
Mohammad Sami's five-wicket haul sent Lahore Ravi crashing to 106, earning Karachi Blues a massive 312-run win at the National Stadium. Lahore had an uphill task when they resumed at 48 for 4, and barring Shahnawaz Malik's unbeaten 43, the rest wilted to the pace of Sami and Tanvir Ahmed, who took three wickets. Karachi retained their position at the top of the table with 45 points, nine ahead of Rawalpindi.
The batsmen had the final say at the Abbottabad Stadium as the match between Peshawar and Abbottabad ended in a draw, an anticlimax from the first two games when the teams were bowled out for paltry totals of 111 and 81. Abbottabad captain Adnan Raees completed his double-century before declaring at 364 for 6, leaving Peshawar a target of 395. Sajjad Ahmed and Jamaluddin scored half-centuries to ensure a draw as Peshawar managed 217 for 4. Abbottabad claimed first-innings points and retained their position at No.5.