Multan Tigers make it two in two
A fine unbeaten ton from opener Ali Asad helped Karachi Dolphins successfully chase down 253 against Peshawar Panthers at the National Stadium. Haroon Ahmed struck an adventurous 61 off 73 balls and was supported by Azam Jan's 56, but the Panthers were pegged back by their inability to kick on. Faraz Ahmed's medium-pace compounded their problems with a tight spell of 4 for 48. Chasing 253 for the win, Asad's innings ensured that the Dolphins were never in trouble. Fahadullah Khan struck a busy 66 to ensure that he had the necessary support and the target was overhauled in 44 overs.
Multan Tigers' bowlers wrapped up Quetta Bears for 190 and set the tone for a fluent win at the United Bank Limited Sports Complex in Karachi. Abdur Rauf started the slide by striking twice early to set the Bears back. Shoaib Khan jnr and Taimur Ali resisted briefly before the spinners - Zulfiqar Babar, Faisal Ali and Mohammad Hafeez (1) - got into the act. Taimur Khan's 52 was the only saving grace as the spin trio picked seven wickets to asphyxiate the innings. The Tigers were troubled by Shoiab's medium pace and lost six wickets in their chase, but a target of 191 was never going to pose major problems.
Mohammad Idrees' 91-ball 104 propelled Khan Research Laboratories to a comfortable 88-run win over Lahore Eagles at the Lahore City Cricket Association Ground. Despite losing Saeed Anwar for 0 in the first over, and two more before the score reached 60, Idrees ensured that the innings did not slow down. He was assisted by a sedate 59 from Bazid Khan who helped raise 119 runs for the fifth wicket. The innings closed at 263, after Emmad Ali and Mohammad Saeed picked three wickets apiece. The Eagles' chase was derailed by a spate of wickets that saw the score plummet from 78 for 2 to 89 for 7. They eventually finished at 175, well short of the target.
National Bank trumped Habib Bank by three wickets in a last-ball thriller at the Gaddaffi Stadium in Lahore. Chasing a reduced target of 256 in 46 overs, Nasir Jamshed and the middle order overcame a torrid start where two top-order wickets fell for ducks. Shahid Nazir bowled well to finish with 3 for 48, but it was not enough as Mansoor Amjad took his side home. Earlier, a fine hundred from Hassan Raza and a strong support role from Younis Khan propelled HBL to 271 in 50 overs. Raza struck ten fours in his run-a-ball innings, but it proved insufficient to force a win.
In another nailbiter at the Khan Research Laboratory Ground, Karachi Zebras pulled off a one-run win over Sui Southern Gas Corporation. Ashraf Ali, whose 71 had taken SSGC to the brink of victory, was run out off the final delivery of the match to hand the Zebras four points. At 195 for 8, still needing 51, SSGC looked well out of the game, but Ashraf forged two solid partnerships with Sohail Khan and Dilawar Khan, neither of whom had any batting expertise to keep SSGC fighting. They were helped by a generous Zebras bowling, which conceded 39 etxras including 25 wides. Zebras had been put in to bat earlier in the day, and were struggling at 91 for 5 before Wajihuddin and Babar Rehman made half-centuries to drive them to a useful 245.
Fine spells from spinners Imad Wasim and Kamran Hussain formed the cornerstone for Islamabad Leopards' four-wicket win over Abbottabad Rhinos at the Diamond Club Ground. The Leopards chose to field first and tormented the Rhinos from the very first over when Ghulam Mohammad departed for no score. Javedullah's run-out set them further back before the spinners took over. Both finished with identical figures of 4 for 24, as the innings floundered after Mir Azam's belligerent 39. Irfan Talib anchored the chase with a calm 65 to take his side home, though six wickets fell in the process.
Shehzad Malik's 72 was the highlight in Sialkot Stallions' successful chase of 187 against Rawalpindi Rams at the Jinnah Stadium. Asked to bat first, the Rams never got going and lost wickets too often in a shoddy performance. Only two batsmen - Usman Saeed and Adnan Mufti - reached 40, but neither could push on to a substantial score, as they folded in the 44th over for 187. At 51 for 4, the Stallions' chase seemed to be going down the same road before Shehzad and Adeel Malik put their heads down to strike the only half-centuries of the day. Adeel perished for 55, but Shehzad ensured that he saw the job through, to give his side four points.
Faisalabad Wolves made short work of Lahore Lions, trouncing them by 74 runs in Sargodha. Batting first, the Wolves racked up 274, thanks to Zeeshan Asif's 74-ball 80. He was supported by Mohammad Shahid, who made 56 in 63 balls. Junaid Zia and Asif Ashfaq picked up three wickets each, as the Wolves were bowled out in the final over. The Lions were never in the hunt and folded up for 200 in the penultimate over. Rana Adnan hit 65 and Yasir Ajmal contributed 46, but the big chase required a more substantial anchor. Aqeel Ahmed picked 3 for 21 to put paid to ensure that the chase never picked momentum.
Group DDespite a career-best 133 from Rameez Raja, Water and Power Development Authority sneaked a one-run victory over Pakistan Customs at the Bahawal Stadium. Chasing 257, Customs lost their top three for 19, but Raja combined with Rameez Aziz for a 113-run stand that evened the match. After another couple of quick blows, he was involved in a steadying 66-run partnership with wicketkeeper Hanif Malik. Customs seemed to have sealed the match reaching 254 for 7, but contrived to lose their final three wickets for one run, with Imranullah Aslam striking twice in the final over of the match. Earlier, half-centuries from Rafatullah Mohmand, Bilal Khilji and Jahangir Mirza proved the backbone of WAPDA's batting effort after they won the toss.
Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited opened their campaign with a convincing 53-run victory over Pakistan International Airlines at the Multan Cricket Stadium. Half-centuries from opener Naeemuddin and No. 3 Raza Ali Dar powered SNGPL after they were put in. There was a lower-order collapse towards the end of the innings - five wickets going down for 18 runs - but SNGPL managed to put up a competitive 245. PIA opener Khurram Manzoor's 89 was the cornerstone of the chase but with Fahad Iqbal being the only other batsman making it past 15, they were bowled out for 192. Dar was the most successful of the SNGPL bowlers, striking four times in five overs to finish off PIA's challenge.