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October 6, 2012
It took just three balls of the final day in Sialkot for Khan Research Laboratories to complete a thumping win over Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited. Nine wickets down overnight, Rehan Riaz could not even last an over of day four as he was bowled by Yasir Ali without adding to the score.
The majority of the work in ZTBL's second innings was done on day three by Nayyer Abbas, who bowled close to half the overs and picked up 5 for 75. He snuffed out any resistance the batting side could offer with the wickets of Zohaib Khan and Mohammad Khalil.
Zohaib's fightback was brisk. He struck two sixes and four fours in his 59-ball half-century before being bowled by Nayyer. Khalil was the second top-score of the innings; his 33 with five fours came from No. 9 and long after any hope of ZTBL saving the match had disappeared.
ZTBL were always staring down the barrel after they conceded a first-innings deficit of 302. Their top order provided a platform with 50 from opener Sharjeel Khan and 74 from No. 4 Babar Azam - his innings lasted 145 balls but his patient work was in vain as there was no other support. Azam eventually fell to Mohammad Irfan who claimed 4 for 73 in 13.3 overs and followed up the effort of his side's batsmen.
KRL had actually been inserted on the first morning but solid contributions from the top order laid the platform for the middle order to put the team in a commanding position. Naved Yasin made exactly 100 in 145 balls but Shoaib Ahmed was able to take his century to 152 with 19 boundaries and a six. Their total of 496 provided sufficient scoreboard pressure for the bowlers to dominate the remainder of the match.
Some tight second-innings bowling by Habib Bank turned the President's Trophy match in Lahore their way, helping them win by five wickets against National Bank of Pakistan. Habib Bank reached their target of 196 on the final day thanks to strong middle-order batting, after being four down for 61.
The match wasn't one-sided till the second innings as both teams notched up competitive first-innings scores, with NBP taking an 11-run lead on the third day. But some lacklustre batting by them, bowled out for 184, shifted the odds in Habib Bank's favour.
The match included a century from Pakistan player Fawad Alam in NBP's first innings, and three fifties. However, there were plenty of starts by batsmen from both teams. Mohammad Imran and Ehsan Adil took six wickets each in the match. Left-arm spinner Mohammad Aslam's four wickets in NBP's second innings were crucial in turning the match in his team's favour.
In another game without much to choose between the competing sides, State Bank of Pakistan were two down for 92 in their final innings in their chase of 245 against Pakistan International Airlines after four days in a drawn match at the National Stadium in Karachi.
PIA's middle-order batsman Faisal Iqbal scored 100, including 13 boundaries and two sixes, and led his side to a competitive 321. SBP's No. 3 Usman Arshad scored 113, and with contributions from Usman Saeed and Mohtashim Ali, SBP eclipsed PIA's score by 17 runs.
They built on that small lead to post a strong 261 for four, led by three half-centuries. By the time the declaration came, it was too late for any result other than a draw. Arshad, nevertheless, ensured SBP were safe in their 26 overs of their chase, following his century with an unbeaten fifty.
Khurram Shehzad held his nerve to steer Sui Northern Gas Pipelines to a three-wicket win over Water and Power Development Authority in Faisalabad. Shehzad made an unbeaten 31 to guide his side home as wickets tumbled in a tricky chase of 115.
After Naeemuddin was bowled by Junaid Khan for 1, SNGP settled as Taufeeq Umar made 32 but a second wicket for Junaid and two for slow left-armer Zulfiqar Babar put them under pressure. Junaid and Zulfiqar removed three more batsman, all for single-figure scores, but Shehzad held firm to ensure the win with a 46-ball innings.
It was a thrilling end to a close contest that in the final analysis had the 66-run first-innings lead SNGP achieved playing a critical role. And that took a lower-order 68 from Mohammad Rizwan after they had slipped to 151 for 6 after an opening stand of 57.
WAPDA found themselves four down before they had wiped out the deficit thanks to Asad Ali removing the top four, three of them leg before. Sohaib Maqsood could not repeat his rescue act of the first innings - he made 95 out of 200, the next highest score was 25 - as his side fell for 180 and set a challenging target that proved ultimately too small.
Umar Amin was the mainstay of Port Qasim Authority's batting in the second innings as his 71 helped secure a draw on the final afternoon in Karachi to deny United Bank victory.
From their overnight 142 for 4, United Bank batted on for another 18 overs on the final morning to extend their lead to 311. And for a while PQA were in the chase with the runs coming at four-an-over and Amin and Daniyal Ahsan adding 85. But Amin was run out to end his hundred-ball innings and the attention turned to saving the match. Kashif Bhatti removed Ahsan to complete his second five-wicket haul of the match but wicketkeeper Mohammad Salman and Tanvir Ahmed batted together almost to the close.
The game began with PQA deciding to bowl first but Ali Asad's 59 was the highest of several useful contributions that helped United Bank make 323. And after Bhatti had picked up 5 for 55 to help bowl PQA out for 237, having been 72 for 0, United Bank were in charge of the match but couldn't complete the win.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Alastair Cook has got used to feeling of the axe hanging over him. Only his team-mates can save England now
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