Mohammad Aslam gives HBL control
Left-arm spinner Mohammad Aslam gave Habib Bank Limited the edge against Karachi Blues at the Southend Club Cricket Stadium in Karachi. His 5 for 30 helped bowl out Karachi for 190 after they had threatened to get much more given a 67-run opening stand between Naved Khan and Rameez Raja, who smashed 47 in just 33 balls. But Aslam struck timely blows, backed up by Pakistan allrounder Azhar Mahmood, who took two wickets. The last seven Karachi wickets fell for just 58. In reply, HBL were in a bit of trouble themselves, finishing the day at 52 for 3, still 138 adrift.
An unbeaten 128-run stand between Atif Ashraf (73 not out) and Junaid Zia (56 not out) helped Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited recover to 270 for 5 on the first day against Faisalabad at the Sports Stadium in Sargodha. A partnership of 61 between Inam-ul-Haq (53) and Shahid Yousuf had promised to steer ZTBL to a competitive score but the team lost three wickets for 34, and was in trouble at 142 for 5. But Ashraf took the lead in the rescue, striking seven fours in his 14th first-class half-century, and was backed up by Zia, who has played ODIs for Pakistan, to give ZTBL a slight edge at the end of the opening day.
It was an action-packed first day at the Diamond Club Ground as 15 wickets fell for 275 runs in the contest between hosts Islamabad and Water and Power Development Authority. It was the latter who held the advantage at stumps on the first day, finishing on 135 for 5 after skittling out their opponents for 140. The stars for WAPDA were two experienced campaigners - fast bowler Sarfraz Ahmed, who's playing his 115th first-class game and has more than 400 wickets to his name and Pakistan international Naved-ul-Hasan. The two grabbed seven wickets between them and the only significant resistance they met was from No.3 batsman Ameer Khan, who top-scored for his side with 53. However, WAPDA would think their response has been less than satisfactory. They lost their openers early while the pair that followed, Sohaib Maqsood and Bilal Khilji, was dismissed after getting good starts. Seamer Nasrullah Khan took three wickets but with just five runs behind, and Hasan Adnan unbeaten on 29, WAPDA will look to build a competitive lead.
National Bank of Pakistan and Multan played out a closely-fought first day at the Multan Cricket Stadium. The hosts, after being put in, were bowled out for 303 but fought back to nip out two NBP wickets before the close. The Multan innings was given impetus by a 84-run fourth-wicket stand between Taimur Ali and Kashif Naved, each of whom scored half-centuries. They were well-paced innings as well with Naved's 63 coming off 66 balls, laced with seven fours. But things went downhill from then on as the last six wickets fell for 63. Fast bowler Wasim Khan, who had taken 314 wickets at the first-class level before this game, led the way with a four-for while every other bowler in the attack delivered at least one breakthrough. But NBP were jolted in their reply by seamer Abdur Rauf, whose double-strike left them at 35 for 2 at stumps.
Rawalpindi were in control of their contest against Pakistan International Airlines at the Rawalpindi Stadium after restricting them to 171 for 9 at the end of the first day. Left-arm medium-pacer Nasir Malik, playing just his fourth first-class game, grabbed 6 for 55 to dent the PIA batting. PIA will be left to rue missed opportunities as seven of their batsmen reached double-figures but the highest individual score was just 26. The openers had promised much with their start; Agha Sabir and Shehzar Mohammad added 51 but the innings fell away soon after. The batsmen who followed, despite settling in, failed to measure up to Malik. In fact, it was the extras that led the scores tally for PIA with 28.
Faisal Khan led the charge for Sialkot against Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited at the Jinnah Stadium in Sialkot, scoring a century to guide his team to 261 for 3 at stumps on the opening day. This was Faisal's third first-class ton and it helped his team fight back after the loss of both openers with the score on 26. Faisal revived the innings in a 186-run third-wicket stand with Majid Jahangir, who made 92, missing out on what could have been his fifth first-class century. Sialkot, with two losses in this tournament thus far, are the bottom-placed team in the Division and the performance on the first day of a new round will come as a major boost.