Karachi Dolphins pull off thrilling win
Karachi Dolphins joined Multan Tigers as group leaders after Azam Hussain inspired them to a thrilling four-run victory over Quetta Bears at the Rashid Laitf Cricket Academy ground in Karachi. A century from Nasrullah Khan and Sabir Hussain's 72 guided Quetta to 225 for 3, on track to overhauling Karachi's 280. However, debutant Rumman Raees ended that partnership by bowling Sabir, before left-arm spinner Azam took four quick wickets to engineer a dramatic collapse. Nasrullah remained unbeaten but Quetta lost six wickets for 37 runs to finish on 276. Earlier, after opting to bat, Karachi were powered by half-centuries from opener Adnan Baig (71) and Sheharyar Ghani (67), and a late assault from Raees to reach a formidable total.
In a bottom-of-the-table clash at the Southend Club Cricket Stadium in Karachi, Peshawar Panthers eased to a 39-run win over Hyderabad Hawks. Peshawar were struggling at 94 for 4 before being rescued by half-centuries from Azam Jan and captain Riaz Afridi, who added 58 for the sixth wicket. That helped Peshawar finish on a defendable 252. In reply, Hyderabad couldn't get together any substantial partnerships, sliding to 147 for 7 before the first sustained spell of resistance. Mohammad Shahroz and Mir Ali put on 54 for the eighth wicket but couldn't undo the damage caused by the top-order failure. Hyderabad were bowled out for 213 in 45 overs, their second straight defeat.
A strong opening stand of 174 between Taufeeq Umar and Shan Masood helped Habib Bank Limited brush aside the challenge of Karachi Zebras at the Diamond Club ground in Islamabad. After choosing to field, HBL's bowlers didn't allow Karachi to stitch together any big partnerships. The only one which grew beyond 50 was for the fifth wicket, between Akbar-ur-Rehman (59) and Wajihuddin (31), coming after Karachi were down to 65 for 4. Karachi cobbled together a not-too-challenging 208, a target which was easily reached after the solid base provided by the openers. Umar went on to make an unbeaten 100, and though there was a mini-collapse once Masood fell for 72, HBL won with six wickets and more than six overs in hand.
It was a similar theme at the Gaddafi Stadium, where National Bank of Pakistan's openers made short work of a small target set by Lahore Eagles. On being sent in, Lahore slipped to 29 for 3, before Junaid Jan (56) and Asif Yousuf set about stabilising the innings with a 51-run stand. However, the wickets fell in a heap again after the pair were separated, and Lahore were bowled out for 207. The NBP openers, Salman Butt and Nasir Jamshed, piled on 159 quick runs to set the side up for victory with more than 20 overs to spare. Jamshed was dismissed for a 50-ball 65 but Butt remained unbeaten on 113 off 94 deliveries to guide NBP to victory.
Khan Research Laboratories kept pace with NBP at the top of the group with a comfortable 68-run win over Sui Southern Gas Corporation in a rain-hit game in Rawalpindi. A century from opener Azhar Ali and a quick 94 from Bazid Khan carried KRL to a strong 291 after they were put in. Rain changed SSGC's target to 236 from 42 overs. The chase never got off the ground, though, with the KRL bowlers scything through the top order to reduce SSGC to 85 for 6. Ashraf Ali then made a patient 54 and Adnan Malik scored a career-best 41 but could only reduce the margin of defeat as SSGC ended well short.
Sialkot Stallions' seam attack helped them maintain their supremacy in the tournament with a seven-wicket win against Abbottabad Rhinos at the Jinnah Stadium. The fast bowling trio of Mohammad Ali, Prince Abbas and Bilawal Bhatti shared nine wickets among them to clean up Abbottabad for 92 in 29.2 overs. Five ducks among the top six batsmen made for a dismal scorecard - at one point Sialkot were 6 for 5. Sialkot hardly broke a sweat to overhaul the target by the 28th over, thanks to Mohammad Ayub's 41.
Faisalabad Wolves took up second spot in the points table after opener Mohammad Shahid's composed 92 helped them overcome Islamabad Leopards by five wickets at the Iqbal Stadium. Faizan Riaz's 50 was the highlight of Islamabad's innings after they chose to bat, but a disciplined bowling effort from the hosts kept them to 219. Shahid and fellow opener Farrukh Shehzad gave Faisalabad a solid start with 79 during the chase. Even as wickets fell at crucial intervals, they got home with nine balls to spare.
A first win continued to elude Lahore Lions as they succumbed to Rawalapindi Rams by four wickets at the Lahore City Cricket Association Ground. Opener Ali Zahid (72) had given Lahore a steady start after being put in, and Rana Adnan contributed 61 lower down. Left-arm spinner Yasim Murtaza managed a five-for as Lahore ended on 252. Babar Naeem's 72 went a long way to anchor the chase, and Hammad Azam's unbeaten 60 off 100 balls sealed victory in the 47th over.
Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited won their second match in a row by crushing Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited by 207 runs at the Bahawal Stadium. Each of their top five batsmen made substantial scores to help SNGPL amass 335. Misbah-ul-Haq top scored with 79, opener Ali Waqas made 60 and Khurram Shehzad provided the late burst with a 38-ball 57. In contrast, the ZTBL top order flopped, none of the top six crossing 25. The tall target was never really in ZTBL's sights, and left-arm spinner Imran Khalid polished off the tail to bowl them out for 128.
It was another one-side game at the Multan Cricket Stadium where Pakistan International Airlines thrashed Pakistan Customs by eight wickets with more than 24 overs remaining. Customs' openers were dismissed cheaply, but the side recovered to reach 95 for 3 through Rameez Raja's half-century. However, the wickets started to tumble after that and with the last five wickets going down for 45 runs, they folded for 196. That proved much too small a target to defend, especially with PIA opener Khurram Manzoor in a murderous mood. He bludgeoned 22 fours on his way to an unbeaten 80-ball 125 to blast PIA to victory in the 26th over.