Rawalpindi seamers set up interesting tussle
Water and Power Development Authority clawed their way back into a low-scoring scrap against Rawalpindi dominated by the seamers at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. Resuming their first innings at 28 for 5, 221 runs behind the home side's effort, WAPDA found their saviours in Sohaib Maqsood and Ahmed Said. The pair arrested the overnight slide with a 109-run stand, Maqsood top-scoring with 76 and Said contributing 57, before seamer Sadaf Hussain added to his three overnight scalps. Sadaf dismissed both batsmen and finished with 6 for 51 while Rizwan Akbar accounted for the remaining four wickets, giving Rawalpindi a 26-run lead. Naved-ul-Hasan, who had wreaked havoc on the opening day, inflicted early damage again, reducing Rawalpindi to 16 for 3 before Jamal Anwar showed some defiance. A late wicket to Nawaz Sardar, after Zahid Mansoor was forced to retire hurt, left the game interestingly poised at stumps.
Shahid Yousuf's sixth first-class hundred, and steady support from the rest of the Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited line-up, propelled their side to an imposing 389-run first-innings lead at the National Stadium in Karachi. Resuming at 192 for 2, ZTBL had an early setback when Zohaib Khan departed after adding just four to his overnight 52. The wicket did little to stall the visitors' progress, though, as Haris Sohail combined with Shahid to add 159 runs. Shahid struck 18 fours and two sixes in his 141, and though the hosts managed to pick up three quick wickets following the partnership, Imran Nazir's quickfire 53 ensured there was no respite. ZTBL declared at 453 for 7, leaving Karachi Blues over two days to survive, but the openers held up well to take their side to stumps at 54 for 0.
A late collapse on the second day weakened Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited's dominance of Faisalabad at the Iqbal Stadium. Replying to the hosts' score of 220, SNGPL were pegged back by the early loss of their openers before being guided by captain Azhar Shafiq's 90 and his 143-run stand with Umar Akmal. Azhar struck 11 fours in his innings, and Umar played in his characteristic style, getting 54 of his 67 runs through boundaries. Things unraveled, however, once they were separated with seamer Ahmed Hayat running through the lower middle-order to finish with five wickets as SNGPL were reduced to 218 for 8. Khurran Shehzad batted through the collapse and will hope to build a first-innings advantage on the third day.
It was another day to remember for Habib Bank Limited's former Pakistan stars, as they surged to a 195-run first-innings lead with two wickets in hand against Islamabad at the Diamond Club Ground. Saleem Elahi was the brightest star of the day, scoring a sparkling 97 off 143 balls, while Azhar Mahmood, who had picked up five wickets on the first day, scored a half-century to add to Islamabad's torment. Khaqan Arsal and Aftab Alam also contributed half-centuries as Islamabad toiled for impact. Fakhar Hussain, who finished the day with 4 for 84, stood out in an otherwise unimpressive bowling effort.
Middle-order batsman Majid Jahangir's fifth first-class century helped Sialkot arrest a top-order collapse to launch a promising response after their bowlers had dismissed National Bank of Pakistan for 358 at the Jinnah Stadium in Sialkot. Seamer Mohammad Talha was at his incisive best once again, striking three early blows to reduce the hosts to 28 for 3 before Jahangir began his resistance. Mohammad Ayub helped him steady the innings, contributing 59 to a 132-run stand. Mohammad Zahid made a couple of late breaches to rock Sialkot again, but Jahangir survived the spell to finish on 110 not out.
Fast-bowler Abdur Rauf, who has played three Tests for Pakistan, starred with a six-wicket haul as Multan dismissed Pakistan International Airlines for 258, before losing three early second-innings wickets at the Gymkhana Ground in Okara. PIA's progress was guided by captain and opener Kamran Sajid, aided by supporting acts from Shoaib Malik and Anop Santosh. Shoaib, eager to reclaim his spot in the Pakistan side, fell two short of fifty, while Santosh managed to score 59. Sajid was run-out six short of a ton, as Rauf ran through the lower order to leave the game in the balance. Najaf Shah then tilted things in PIA's favour, striking two early blows while Sajid chipped in with another, leaving Multan stuttering at 27 for 3 by stumps.