Multan sink to eighth straight defeat
Multan's misery in the tournament continued as they sunk to their eighth consecutive defeat after being skittled out for 63 against Sialkot at the Gymkhana Ground in Okara. They had conceded a lead of 80 on the first innings and a century from Sialkot captain Mansoor Amjad with support from the tail resulted in a target of 309. Given Multan's form this tournament, Sialkot were favourites to clinch the game. Multan simply failed to measure up, losing by 245 runs. It just took the two fast bowlers Waqas Ahmed and Prince Abbas to finish them off as the pair shared nine wickets. Only two batsmen reached double-figures and 16.5 overs was all it took for the innings to finish. Multan remained at the bottom of the table while Sialkot moved up to seventh place.
Pakistan International Airlines thumped Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited by an innings and 122 runs at the Margzhar Cricket Ground in Islamabad. SNGPL had been reeling at 99 for 7 in response to PIA's 401 at the end of the second day, but did put up a resistance on the third, with their lower order taking the score to 161. But they only survived 35.5 overs in the second innings after following on, capitulating to medium pace of Aizaz Cheema, who grabbed 6 for 29, to be bowled out for 118. PIA, after playing seven games, are now fourth on the table with 36 points while SNGPL are eighth.
Rawalpindi tightened their grip over Karachi Blues at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. Rawalpindi had gained a first-innings lead on the second day and thanks to Muzammil Nizam's unbeaten 96, were able to push it to 95. Karachi struggled in their second innings as seamers Sadaf Hussain and Rashid Latif grabbed four wickets each to leave their opponents at 176 for 8, only 81 ahead, at stumps. Akbar-ur-Rehman top scored for Karachi with 49 and while others go starts, they failed to push on. Rawalpindi are currently sixth on the table, Karachi are 11th.
Faisalabad turned the tables on Islamabad at the Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad, and are in a position to win their contest after being behind the eight-ball on the first two days. A solid performance from the middle order helped put them in control on the third day, extending their lead from 104 overnight, with six wickets in hand, to 340 in the second innings. Wicketkeeper Mohammad Salman starred with a century, captain Ijaz Ahmed jnr made 94 and Abdul Rauf chipped in with a half-century. Rauf and Ijaz added 126 for the fifth wicket, while Salman remained unbeaten to stretch the score to 386 for 9 declared. Set a target of 341, Islamabad were in a precarious situation at stumps, at 83 for 3. Faisalabad and Islamabad are square on nine points, but are placed ninth and tenth respectively.
In the battle of the top two teams in the table, Habib Bank Limited who looked good to retain their place at No.1 as they piled on a 270-run lead in the first innings at the Diamond Club Ground in Islamabad. Water and Power Development Authority were in trouble at stumps, at 9 for 2 and still 261 behind on the lead. At 250 for 3 overnight, already having gained a first-innings lead, HBL set about strengthening their position. Captain Hasan Raza progressed to score 78, while wicketkeeper Humayun Farhat, top scoring with an unbeaten 117, batted with the tail to stretch HBL's score to 509 for 9 declared. His innings was power-packed, taking just 84 deliveries and featuring 16 fours and four sixes. The pressure on WAPDA was enough to yield two wickets before the close and a tough final day awaits them.
The contest between National Bank of Pakistan and Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited at the Jinnah Stadium in Sialkot is interestingly poised, though not with any outright result in sight. In response to NBP's first-innings score of 370, ZTBL reached 326 for 6 at stumps on the third day. Haris Sohail remains the key man, as he struck an unbeaten 103 after the top order had given a good start to the innings. Sohail struck 18 fours and resisted medium-pacer Uzair-ul-Haq's spell of four wickets. ZTBL still need 45 runs to get into the lead and if they do so, they remain in third place but move closer to WAPDA who are currently second.