Sialkot strengthen hold over Karachi Blues
Sialkot took charge of their game against Karachi Blues in the top-of-the-table clash at the National Stadium. Karachi's No. 3 Asad Shafique top scored with 85, but none of the others below him in the order made it past 20. That meant they slipped to 216 all out, after being 108 for 3 at one stage, handing Sialkot a 100-run first-innings cushion. Sialkot opener Kamran Younis, who made a first-innings century, was the only batsman to fall before stumps in the second innings, after slamming seven fours in a 31-ball 42 to put them 197 ahead.
At the Sports Stadium in Sargodha, the match between Abbottabad and Faisalabad remained evenly poised. Ammar Mahmood's half-century and an unbeaten 45 form Zeeshan Asif took Faisalabad to 173 for 4, still trailing by 166 runs. The Abbottabad tail had used up more than 21 overs in compiling 46 runs for the final four wickets earlier in the day. Zahoor Khan added the scalp of Junaid Khan to his four on Tuesday to complete his fifth five-wicket haul.
The two cellar-dwellers of the group, Hyderabad and Quetta, were locked in a tense battle for the first-innings lead in Mirpur Khas. Hanif-ur-Rehman's brisk 123 seemed to have put Hyderabad in control, steering them to 201 for 3 in reply to Quetta's 280. However, Hyderabad lost two wickets, including that of Hanif, on that score, and two more for the addition of 60 runs, leaving them 12 short at stumps. Quick bowler Arun Lal was the most effective of the Quetta bowlers, taking four of the first five wickets to fall.
Lahore Ravi's fast bowler Junaid Zia followed up the good work of their batsmen to leave Islamabad in big trouble at the Lahore City Cricket Association ground. Overnight batsmen, Sohail Ahmed and Mohammad Asim, piled on the misery for Islamabad: Sohail going on to his century while Asim fell for 73. Eighteen-year-old offspinner Kamran Hussain took four wickets on the day to keep Lahore to 448. During the reply, the Islamabad batsmen were clueless against Zia as they slumped to 140 for 9. Zia finished the day with 6 for 48.
Babar Naeem's century strengthened Rawalpindi's position against Multan at the Multan Cricket Stadium. Resuming from 54 for 2, Rawalpindi seemed to have wasted the chance of taking a massive first-innings lead by slipping to 156 for 6, 48 ahead of Multan. However, Babar stitched together a 108-run partnership with Yasim Murtaza (51*) for the seventh wicket to give Rawalpindi a substantial lead. They finished the day with a 217-run cushion, with two wickets in hand.
It was a riveting contest between Karachi Whites and Sui Southern Gas Corporation at the Southend Club Cricket Stadium. SSGC pocked the points for the first-innings lead after bowling out Karachi for 253, a 40-run advantage. However, Karachi fought back to level the game by snaring four SSGC wickets in the 18 overs before stumps. SSGC are now 103 ahead with six wickets in hand. Earlier, fast bowlers Sohail Khan and Rajesh Ramesh had reduced Karachi to 90 for 5 before Karachi clawed their way past 200 through wicketkeeper Afsar Nawaz's 61.
Khan Research Laboratories will be the happier team after a day of collapses in their game against Pakistan Customs in Rawalpindi. KRL fluffed their lines in the first-innings, losing their final six wickets for 61 to concede a 21-run lead despite having bowled out Customs for 197. Twenty-three-year-old Zeeshan Nadir was the pick of the Customs bowlers, bagging 5 for 58. KRL bounced back in the final session, though, with new-ball bowlers Mohammad Irfan and Jaffar Nazir reducing Customs to 43 for 6. A seventh-wicket association of 51 runs saved Customs some embarrassment, but at 121 for 9 KRL are frontrunners to take the game.
The wickets continued to tumble at the Gaddafi Stadium, where Habib Bank Limited fragile batting lost them the buffer gained by bowling out Lahore Shalimar for 149. In the morning, Lahore imploded spectacularly - losing eight wickets for 32 runs from 79 for 1, including four on 111. Left-arm medium-pacer Kamran Hussain brought about that collapse, capturing seven wickets for 25. Remarkably, six of his victims were bowled. Saad Nasim (34) however guided Lahore past HBL's first-innings score of 141, making most of the runs in a 38-run final-wicket stand. Things got worse for HBL as their batting folded against the pace of Mohammad Naved; his six wickets reducing HBL to 186 for 9, an overall lead of 178.
Legspinner Yasir Shah's six wickets gave Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited the first-innings lead against National Bank of Pakistan at the Iqbal Stadium. NBP started well, their openers putting on 95 but soon slipped to 111 for 4. Only two other batsmen made it into double figures, and despite Wasim Khan's unbeaten 53 NBP folded for 202, conceding a 57-run lead. SNGPL's openers took their side safely to 19 before stumps.
Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited are poised to overtake Pakistan International Airlines' first-innings total of 273 at the Diamond Club ground. Inam-ul-Haq's 81 provided solidity at the top of the order; he forged two substantial partnerships, one of 67 runs with Shahid Yousuf for the third wicket and the other of 60 runs with captain Imran Nazir for the fourth. The biggest stand of the day came after his dismissal - an unbroken 83 for the fifth between Nazir and Haris Sohail which took ZTBL to 251 for 4.