RBS Pentangular Cup, 5th round, 1st day January 25, 2010

Aslam brightens HBL's final hopes

Cricinfo staff

Mohammad Aslam's 7 for 37 gave Habib Bank Limited (HBL) the early impetus against Karachi Blues at the National Stadium. In a re-run of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy final, it was the runners-up who held sway on the opening morning and improved their chance of a finals spot as Aslam scythed through the Karachi batting. The left-arm spinner accounted for Nos. 4-10 with Sheharyar Ghani managing the highest of 41 in Karachi's total of 187. In reply, HBL were rocked by Mohammad Sami's twin blows early on, before Khaqan Arsal steadied the innings with a well-paced 57 and took them to 95 for 2 at stumps.

Left-hander Naeemuddin's unbeaten 119 defied The Rest's charge against table-toppers Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) at the National Bank of Pakistan Sports Complex. With both teams on 18 points, and HBL snapping at their heels, the race for the finals spot may well hinge on the outcome of this match. Mohammad Hafeeez and Naeemuddin's opening stand of 74 gave SNGPL a bright start after they were put in. Even when Hafeez departed and The Rest looked to get back in control in brief spurts, Naeemuddin powered on with Saleem Mughal to take them past 200. Having hit 13 boundaries already, more will be expected from Naeemuddin if SNGPL are to improve on their 272 for 6.