Bowlers dominate opening day
Eighteen wickets fell on the first day of the contest between Islamabad and Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited at the Diamond Club Ground in Islamabad. In conditions that proved a gift for fast bowlers, the batting line-ups of both teams crumbled but SNGPL performed marginally better to take an important 45-run lead with two wickets still in hand. The fast-bowling pair of Asad Ali (6 for 50) and Imran Ali (4 for 22) ran through the Islamabad line-up, sharing all ten wickets, and skittled out Islamabad for 97 in just under 29 overs. In their reply, SNGPL struggled to measure up to the medium pace of Fakhar Hussain, who bagged four wickets. But useful contributions from opener Yasir Arafat (39), Usman Arshad (32) and an unbeaten 32 from Khurram Shehzad guided SNGPL to 142 for 8 at stumps. On a day where only 219 runs were scored, extras made up for 39 of them.
Kamran Akmal helped end the first day of the contest between National Bank of Pakistan and Faisalabad in Sargodha on even terms. His unbeaten 135 helped NBP recover from trouble at 26 for 3, and he was helped by opener Rashid Riaz who contributed 77. The pair added 138 for the fourth wicket and Akmal, who batted fluently, consuming just 204 balls in his innings thus far, is left with the responsibility of ensuring his team gains control of the game from 276 for 6 at stumps. Part-time offspinner Hasan Mahmood picked up three wickets.
Pakistan International Airlines recovered to 224 for 4 at stumps on the opening day against Sialkot at the Jinnah Stadium in Sialkot. Shoaib Malik, the former Pakistan captain, notched up a century and added 167 with captain Kamran Sajid for the fourth wicket after Sialkot had been reduced to 53 for 3 at one stage. Malik's was an attacking innings, laced with 16 fours and a six; his 102 came off just 117 balls. Sajid was unbeaten on 72 and his presence at the crease will be crucial if PIA are to build a more substantial score.
Karachi Blues capitulated against the pace bowling of Naved-ul-Hasan and Nawaz Sardar as Water and Power Development Authority took control at the National Stadium in Karachi. Only opener Naved Khan offered any significant resistance, fighting it out for 42 off 127 balls, while the rest, for the bulk, came and went. Naved-ul-Hasan, opening the bowling, grabbed 4 for 66 but it was Sardar's performance that stood out, as he caused early damage as well as ran through the tail. He picked up 4 for 5 in 7.5 overs, a spell that also piled on the pressure with four maidens. Karachi could only manage 128, and an unbeaten half-century from opener Rafatullah Mohmand set the foundation for a significant lead for WAPDA, who finished the day on 116 for 1.
Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited took control of their game against Multan at the end of the opening day at the Multan Cricket Stadium. Half-centuries from opener Zohaib Khan, who fell just three short of three figures, captain Imran Nazir, and allrounder Abdul Razzaq steered ZTBL to 325. Multan, for their part, did well with the ball, as seamer Abdur Rauf and Mazhar Bashir, with his offspin in his maiden first-class game, picked up four wickets each to keep ZTBL down to a score that would have meant things were pretty much even at the end of the innings. However, the game turned in ZTBL's favour when left-arm seamer Mohammad Khalil picked up two wickets in Multan's reply to leave them at stumps at 19 for 2.
A collective batting effort from Rawalpindi helped them reach 334 for 5 on the first day against Habib Bank Limited at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. The effort centered around useful partnerships between the top and the middle orders. Naved Malik dominated an opening stand of 56 and added a further 73 with captain Babar Naeem, who top scored with 80. There was a slight wobble when three wickets fell for 46, but Muzammil Nizam, with an unbeaten 49, and wicketkeeper Jamal Anwar helped revive the innings with a still ongoing 71-run stand. Seamer Kamran Hussain took three wickets for HBL.