NBP ease to eight-wicket win
Mohammad Talha polished off Abbottabad's lower order early on the third day and Khurram Manzoor scored a fluent century to set up National Bank of Pakistan's (NBP) convincing eight-wicket win at the Abbottabad Cricket Stadium. Over the first two days, the match had swayed both ways with no clear favourite emerging. But on Thursday morning, Talha - who completed his five-for - and Umaid Asif's strikes kept Abbottabad to 185 and gave NBP the opening they needed. The batsmen did not let the bowlers down. Chasing 221, Manzoor was solid at one end, while Nasir Jamshed made a quick 38 in a half-century opening stand. Following that, Umar Amin supported Manzoor well in a century partnership to all but seal the game. NBP scored at over five runs an over and Manzoor closed out the game in only the 42nd over, with over a day still to play.
Sialkot face a tough task on the final day against Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZBTL), after slipping to 195 for 4 in pursuit of 527 at the Jinnah Stadium. After the drought of runs in the first innings of the Test, the deluge continued for ZBTL in their second innings on the third day. Resuming on 361 for 4 with Haris Sohail unbeaten on 26, they kicked on to 502 for 9 at over five runs an over, before declaring. The brisk scoring rate was maintained by Haris, who got to 104 off 128 balls before he was trapped lbw by Mohammad Ayub, and Zulqarnain Haider - the wicketkeeper hit a run-a-ball 33. ZBTL struck early once the chase began, but were stalled by a 97-run stand between Mohammad Yasin and Faisal Khan. However, three quick wickets followed the partnership, denting Sialkot's chances of survival. Whether they are able to hold off ZBTL on day four will depend heavily on Faisal, who went to stumps undefeated on 73.
Despite a collapse from their lower middle order, Habib Bank Limited (HBL) are on the verge of a win against Rawalpindi at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. HBL followed up the low-scoring first innings with a commendable second innings score: 376, to set the hosts 330 for a win. HBL had resumed on 237 for 2 and the overnight batsmen, Bilal Shafayat and Khaqan Asral, went on to score a century and fifty respectively. When Sulaman Qadir followed up those knocks with a blistering 81 off 46 balls, HBL looked set for a much bigger total. As they pursued quick runs though, wickets fell in a hurry, mostly to first innings' star, Sadaf Hussain. Left-armer Sadaf took his match tally to 15 wickets, with a six-wicket haul in the second innings. HBL's bowlers then struck with regularity to reduce Rawalpindi 159 for 7, with the new-ball pair of Fahad Masood and Sarmad Anwar doing most of the damage.
Hosts Islamabad took control of their game against State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) at the Diamond Club Ground, courtesy an unbeaten century from opener Afaq Raheem. In the morning, fast bowler Shehzad Azam and left-arm spinner Imad Wasim combined to knock over the SBP tail and keep them to 193 in reply to Islamabad's 276. With a 83-run first-innings lead cushion, Islamabad's openers were under no real pressure and settled in to grind the SBP attack. They put on 184 before Umair Khan was lbw for 61. A 55-run stand followed between Raheem and Raheel Majeed, to give the hosts an imposing 322-run lead going into the final day.
The match between Pakistan International Airlines and Faisalabad at the Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad looked set for a draw at the end of the penultimate day's play. Faisalabad batted out the day, moving from 192 for 2 to 374 for 5 in reply to PIA's 396. Farrukh Shehzad was the top scorer for Faisalabad so far, hitting 128. He was well supported by Zeeshan Butt and Faisal Bin Mubashir, who both scored half-centuries.
Barring a spectacular collapse, Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) should secure a win against Karachi Blues at the National Stadium on the final day, after going to stumps 151 for 3 chasing 210. Karachi Blues had resumed on 166 for 5 in their second innings, and courtesy solid cameos from Ashraf Ali, Javed Mansoor and Mohammad Sami, pushed on to 284. WAPDA were in trouble at 12 for 2 and then 40 for 3 in the chase, before Rafatullah Mohmand and Bilal Khilji steadied them. The pair put on a century stand, which was unbroken at stumps.