Sharjeel double-ton revives ZTBL
The astonishing turnaround in the tone of action at the Jinnah Stadium seemed to imply an overnight pitch-swap. After a chaotic first day yielded 192 for 17, the second unveiled in an unrecognisably rambunctious fashion as 387 runs were scored for the loss of seven wickets. Three of those belonged to the Sialkot tail that subsided to Sohail Tanvir (6 for 19), to leave Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited with a 24-run lead despite the side having folded for 121. ZTBL's second innings progressed along very different lines thanks to Sharjeel Khan, who smashed a mind-boggling 205 off 186 balls, studded with 33 fours and five sixes. Shahid Yousuf and the usually belligerent Imran Nazir were reduced to sideshows, but their half-centuries were equally important in driving ZTBL to an imposing lead of 385 with six wickets standing.
Habib Bank Limited made a strong comeback to finish the second day 190 runs ahead of Rawalpindi's first-innings score at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. No. 3 batsman Bilal Shafayat was at the heart of HBL's turnaround, after they were shot out by Sadaf Hussain's nine-wicket haul on the opening day. Shafayat was unbeaten on 97 and, supported by Shan Masood's 58 and Ahmed Shehzad's 45, pushed HBL to a strong 237 for 2 by stumps. Sadaf struck both second-innings blows to account for 11 out of a possible 12 wickets so far in the game. Earlier, Fahad Masood and Sarmad Ansar shared nine wickets to bowl out Rawalpindi for 161, giving them a first-innings lead of only 47.
Saad Altaf's five-wicket haul helped State Bank of Pakistan bowl Islamabad out for 276, but the hosts were in control by stumps at the Diamond Club Ground, after reducing SBP to 166 for 7. Afaq Raheem, who was unbeaten on 89 overnight, duly completed his century before becoming Altaf's fourth victim. Shehzad Azam contributed a doughty 25 to guide Islamabad past 250 before Altaf got rid of No. 11 Nasrullah Khan to complete his five-for. Azam and Nasrullah then dismantled SBP's top order to reduce them to 49 for 4. Captain Kashif Siddiq scored a battling half-century to spark a fightback with the lower order, but SBP were still 110 runs behind at close of play.
Faisalabad launched a confident reply at the Iqbal Stadium after Pakistan International Airlines (PIA)'s middle order led them to an imposing 396 in the first innings. PIA lost their last four wickets for only 44 runs on the second morning, as new-ball bowler Abdur Rauf ran through the tail to finish with 5 for 93. An obdurate Farrukh Shehzad led Faisalabad's response, moving to an unbeaten 76 off 195 balls by stumps. Shahid Siddiq, Asif Hussain and the unbeaten Zeeshan Butt all contributed scores in the 30s to push Faisalabad to 192 for 2.
National Bank of Pakistan's (NBP) and Abbottabad scrapped for the ascendancy through the second day at the Abbottabad Cricket Stadium, to leave the game delicately poised. Resuming at 37 for 1 after having dismissed Abbottabad for 222 on the opening day, NBP ran into an inspired Ahmed Jamal (6 for 55) to succumb for 187, despite Umar Amin's 70. Abbottabad's openers, led by a free-stroking 53 from Fawad Khan, extended the lead into three-figures with an 84-run stand before losing five wickets for the addition of just 27 runs to give SBP an opening.
Karachi Blues were in a spot of bother against Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) at the National Stadium, finishing the second day 91 runs ahead in the second innings, but with only five wickets remaining. A series of starts from the WAPDA middle order meant they went past 200, despite only one batsman - Ali Azmat (51) - managing a half-century. Sohail Khan's four-wicket haul kept them down to 219, giving them a 75-run first-innings lead. Shahzaib Hasan (71) led Karachi Blues' reply, but frequent incisions at the other end meant WAPDA held the aces at the end of play.