Shoaib Malik 94 takes PIA to victory
An unbeaten 94 by middle-order batsman Shoaib Malik took Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to a six-wicket win against Habib Bank Limited in Sialkot. Chasing 176 to win, they were in trouble at 13 for 3, but Malik put on an 84-run partnership with opener Shehzar Mohammad, and followed it up with a 79-run stand with Anwar Ali to achieve the target. After conceding a 28-run deficit in the first innings, PIA's bowlers, led by seamer Najaf Shah, bowled Habib Bank out for 147 to give their batsmen a fair chance of winning the match.
After choosing to bat, Habib Bank struggled to find momentum in their innings, largely due to fast bowlers Aizaz Cheema and Anwar Ali, who took seven wickets between them. Opener Shan Masood's 42 was their highest score as they were bowled out for 200. But Fahad Masood, by taking 6 for 33, brought them back into the contest, and helped restrict PIA to 172. Even that meagre total was reached after half-centuries from Malik and wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed, who put on 90 runs for the sixth wicket.
Habib Bank's No. 3 Aftab Alam scored a half-century in the second innings but he was the only one who provided some resistance as Shah and Cheema ran through their line-up. The target didn't look likely to be overhauled when Masood shook PIA's top order, but Malik took them to victory. Faisal Iqbal had a poor game with the bat, scoring nine runs.
In Faisalabad, a strong first-innings batting performance by Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), which helped them gain a 123-run lead against State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), took them to three points after the game was drawn.
Middle-order batsman Yasir Arafat led KRL's first innings, with a patient 80, as they scored 311. SBP kept losing wickets regularly in reply, and were struggling at 107 for 8 before middle-order batsman Mohtashim Ali and No. 10 Hasan Mahmood helped them reach 188. Left-arm spinner Nauman Ali was the chief wrecker with four wickets.
Half-centuries from opener Zain Abbas and Saeed Anwar jnr. led KRL's second-innings effort before they declared at 183 for 5, at the end of the third day.
Chasing 307, SBP openers began positively, putting on 103 for the first wicket. There was a brief stutter when three wickets fell for 15 runs, but opener Farrukh Shehzad and No. 6 Usman Saeed took them to safety, and the match was called a draw after 73 overs.
SNGPL, after being put in to bat, scored 250, led by captain Misbah-ul-Haq's 110, the Pakistan captain's first fifty-plus score of the season. Allrounder Abdul Razzaq was the chief wicket-taker with six wickets but it wasn't too happy a game for him after that as he scored two ducks. Wicketkeeper
ZTBL couldn't recover in the contest after their first-innings collapse, bowled out for 99, mainly due to a six-wicket haul by seamer Samiullah Khan which gave SNGPL a big lead of 151.
SNGPL backed their bowling performance with strong batting. Opener Taufeeq Umar scored 80, and shared a 153-run partnership with Azhar Ali, who remained unbeaten on 129 when SNGPL declared at 256 for 2, setting ZTBL a stiff target of 407.
Samiullah was again the chief wicket-taker in ZTBL's chase. Sohail was the only batsman who provided some resistance, as they were bowled out for 221, giving SNGPL victory by 186 runs and taking them to the top of the table.
Adnan Akmal missed the match despite recovering from a finger injury, on account of his upcoming wedding.