Faisalabad edge ahead as 19 wickets tumble
After a breathtaking 19 wickets fell on the first day, Faisalabad emerged from the wreckage with the edge over Multan in the battle between the bottom two teams at the Bahawal Stadium in Bahawalpur. Multan were asked to bat first, and were in trouble straight away, losing both openers with no runs on the board. The Faisalabad bowlers, led by Rauf Nazir, were then able to keep the pressure on all through the innings. Nazir knocked over the hosts' middle order, taking 4 for 23, and was well supported by Zeeshan Butt, with 3 for 14, and Ahmad Hayat, with 2 for 27, as Multan crumpled to 81 all out. The visitors' innings began in equally dramatic fashion, as Abdur Rauf ripped out three of the top four batsmen to leave them in tatters at 6 for 3. Unlike Multan, however, the middle and lower orders offered some resistance, and Hayat's unbeaten 45 helped Faisalabad push on to 163 for 9. Rauf kept taking wickets, seven in total, but was also expensive, going for 3.80 runs an over, and the rest of the bowlers lacked penetration, allowing Faisalabad to take a lead that could turn out to be crucial in what is shaping up to be a low-scoring game.
Table toppers Water and Power Development Authority wasted no time in asserting their authority over Pakistan International Airlines at the Marghzar Cricket Ground in Islamabad. WAPDA won the toss and opted to field, and Naved-ul-Hasan and Sarfraz Ahmed removed both openers for just 26. Asad Shafiq then steadied the PIA innings somewhat, as they reached 84 for 3, before Azhar Attari and Umaid Asif each struck twice to make it 85 for 7. However, No. 9 Tahir Khan led a recovery alongside Anop Santosh, the pair adding 90 before Santosh was bowled by Sohaib Masqood for 39. Khan continued to battle, taking PIA past the 200-mark, and remaining unbeaten on 69 as the innings folded for 214. Attari was the pick of the bowlers, taking 3 for 21 in 10 overs. In reply, WAPDA were 30 for 1, having lost Jahangir Mirza for 12.
Fast bowler Rashid Latif picked up a five-for to help Rawalpindi dismiss Islamabad for 218 at the Diamond Club Ground in Islamabad. Ameer Khan topscored with 79, and Imad Wasim made 46 down the order, but the hosts failed to get contributions from their top and middle orders. Opener Nauman Masood was the only other batsman to go past 20, making 37 before becoming Latif's second victim. Latif prised out five of the top six batsmen, including Khan, to finish with 5 for 77 from 23 overs. Naved Malik and Shoaib Nasir got the visitors off to a blazing start, adding 52 at better than a run-a-ball, before Malik fell to Shehzad Azam for 30, having faced just 17 balls and struck 5 fours.
Fourteen wickets fell on the first day at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium as Habib Bank Limited finished with the advantage against Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited. HBL took just 35.5 overs to bowl ZTBL out for 118 after putting them into bat. Azhar Mahmood, the former Pakistan allrounder, took 5 for 41 to run through ZTBL's top order and then Younis Khan, who is in the Pakistan Test squad for their upcoming tour of New Zealand, polished off the tail, taking three wickets with his part-time seamers. ZTBL got off to an inauspicious start when opener Yasir Hameed, who has played 25 Tests for Pakistan, was out for a duck with the score still on zero. There were two more ducks in ZTBL's innings, as none of their batsmen past the 30-run mark. HBL then had problems of their own early on with the bat. They were 20 for 2 after opener Imran Farhat and Saleem Elahi were out for single digit scores. Younis got the day's highest score with his 32 and captain Hasan Raza was not out on 27 as HBL finished the day at 130 for 4. ZTBL seamer Mohammad Khalil took 3 for 44. HBL and ZTBL are both tied in second position in the tablewith 39 points each.
Centuries from Mohammad Ayub and Mansoor Amjad took Sialkot to a strong position against Karachi Blues after a shaky start at the National Stadium in Karachi. After being into bat, Sialkot found themselves at 48 for 4 before Ayub and Amjad led a tremendous fightback. Both batsmen were unbeaten on 109 at stumps, having added 245 to take Sialkot to 273 for 4. Fast bowler Babar Rehman had done the early damage for Karachi, taking three early wickets. Both teams desperately need points, having picked up only three each so far this season.
Sui Northern Gas Pipelines put National Bank of Pakistan in and then bowled them out for 155 on the first dayat the Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad. Seamer Asad Ali, who is the second highest wicket-taker this season, gave SNGPL an early breakthrough, bowling opener Rashi Riaz. Riaz's opening partner Nasir Jamshed battled hard for his 40, but wickets kept falling at the other end. Wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal, who was left out of Pakistan's Test and Twenty20 squad for their tour of New Zealand, was NBP's second-highest scorer with 31. Asad finished with 3 for 46 and then SNGPL reached 73 for 2 by the close of play. They are six points behind NBP in the table.