Rawalpindi, SNGPL complete wins on final day
Rawalpindi completed the stirring fightback they had begun on the third day by rolling out Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited for 139 in the fourth innings to secure a 171-run victory at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. Zahid Mansoor's unbeaten overnight century had helped Rawalpindi erase a mammoth 120-run first innings deficit and lift them towards a strong score, but on the final morning it was Sadaf Hussain who sealed the deal, first by scoring 25 demoralising runs from No. 11 to set a target of 311, and then scything through the ZTBL batting line-up with his third five-for in his fifth first-class match.
Afaq Raheem and Shahid Yousuf departed early before Imran Nazir counterattacked for ZTBL with seven fours in his 36 off 27 balls. Yasir Hameed held up the other end in a stand of 58 that raised hopes of a strong pursuit, but Sadaf was soon back to continue his handiwork. Hameed and Nazir - who was bowled by Sadaf - departed with the score on 66 as Rawalpindi closed in against the tail. Nadeem Sikander ran through the lower order before Sohail Tanvir and Junaid Zia showed some resistance, but it was too little too late for ZTBL who were bowled out in the 41st over.
Seamer Asad Ali's 13th five-wicket haul helped Sui Northern Gas Pipelines skittle Multan for 134 and complete an eventually easy 136-run victory at the Multan Cricket Stadium. Resuming their chase of 271 at 2 for 1, Multan's top order failed to take the initiative against some purposeful bowling. Overnight batsmen Zaka-ur-Rasheed and Tahir Maqsood did not last long, and when Yasir Butt exited at 19 for 4, the stage was set for an early finish. Kashif Naved resisted briefly to lift the score past 50 before Asad and co. got into the act once again.
Yasir Shah sent back Kashif, and Asad responded by dismissing Tariq Nadeem a run later to leave Multan gasping at 52 for 6. Abdur Rauf's attacking 31 hauled them past the three-figure mark, but never left the final result in doubt. There was enough time for Asad to complete his five-for before Multan folded in the 35th over.
Faisalabad's batsmen, led by opener Farrukh Shehzad's maiden century, dug deep on the final day to hold on for a draw against Habib Bank Limited at the Iqbal Stadium. Resuming the day requiring 248 runs to avoid an innings defeat with only seven wickets remaining, Faisalabad were anchored by the doughty overnight pair of Shehzad and Naved Latif. Latif was obduracy personified in his 66 that spanned a minute short of five hours, and consumed 266 balls. Shehzad proceeded to his century but fell soon after, having struck 12 fours in 101 off 281 balls. The pair's partnership yielded 120 for the fourth wicket but crucially killed enough time to take their side towards safety. Danish Kaneria and Mohammad Aslam made three quick inroads to set up a potentially thrilling close, but their efforts were scuppered by Ijaz Ahmed jnr. He saw things through to the finish with a half-century, securing a honourable draw for his side after they had fallen well behind in the first half of the match.
Content with the three points on offer for the first-innings lead, Islamabad's middle and lower order settled for batting practice instead of pushing for an outright victory as their game against National Bank of Pakistan ended in a draw at the Diamond Club Ground. Resuming their second innings at 177 for 5, an overall lead of 264, Islamabad continued to accumulate runs at a sedate pace. Imad Wasim struck five fours in his 71 that came off 221 balls, before No. 9 Rauf Akbar contributed 65 off 100 balls. Mohammad Talha finished with five wickets, but NBP's inability to make quick inroads on the final day cost them the opportunity to push for a win. The batsmen scored 60 for 2 in the 14 overs they got in the fourth innings, but the match had been robbed off a decisive result long before that.