PIA beat WAPDA to narrow gap
In a dramatic finish Islamabad nearly collapsed to what would have been a shocking loss but hung on to win by three wickets against Rawalpindi at the Diamond Club Ground in Islamabad. Islamabad had to chase just 87 to win, and were 53 for 1 at one stage. The middle order collapsed, with three wickets falling with the score on 64 and two more with the score on 76. That left Rawalpindi with a slim chance of a win but luckily for Islamabad their eighth-wicket pair kept their nerve and avoided what would have been an embarrassing defeat.
Islamabad had dominated the majority of the first two days but Rawalpindi had started to show some signs of a fightback, reaching 100 for 3 by the end of the second day. They went on to score 256, with Awais Zia scoring 71. Seamer Fakhar Hussain, who took three wickets in the first innings, took five in the second and Islamabad were left with what looked like an easy target. They wobbled though, and it was seamers Nasir Malik, who took 4 for 38, and Rashid Latif, who claimed three scalps to take his match-haul to eight, who did the damage. Afaq Raheem's 36 at the top of the order had taken Islamabad to a position of comfort but they needed their Nos. 8 and 9 to take them home.
Kamran Sajid's unbeaten century helped Pakistan International Airlines stroll to an eight-wicket win against table-toppers Water and Power Development Authority at the Marghzar Cricket Ground in Islamabad. WAPDA set PIA 211 to win, which looked like it could be a tricky target in a low-scoring match. PIA, however, turned around that trend by cruising to the target in 57.2 overs for the loss of just two wickets. Sajid scored 104 not out and Faisal Iqbal reached 68 not out to complete the chase. WAPDA had conceded an eight-run first-innings lead and started the third day on 169 for 7. They added another 49 runs but the target they set was not enough. The victory takes PIA to within six points of WAPDA at the top of the table.
Faisalabad offered their first bit of resistance with the bat on the third day but it was not enough to stop Abbottabad from notching up their first win of the season, by an innings and 37 runs at the Gohati Cricket Stadium in Swabi. Faisalabad had been bowled out for 74 in their first innings and were 42 for 4 in their second at the start of the third day. That was soon 42 for 5 but then Zeeshan Butt reached a half-century and put together a 59-run partnership with Asif Hussain. There were a few contributions from the lower order to take Faisalabad to 200, but it was not even enough to make Abbottabad bat again. Abbottabad's bowlers shared the wickets around. It was a big result for them after they had lost each of their first six games.
Half-centuries from Kamran Akmal, Nasir Jamshed and Qaiser Abbas took National Bank of Pakistan to 248 for 4 after they and State Bank of Pakistan had both scored 282 in their first innings at the Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad. The match was evenly balanced at the start of the third day, with State Bank on 237 for 6 and they could only add another 45 runs to draw level with National Bank's first-innings score. Mohammad Talha took three wickets on the third day to finish with figures of 5 for 78. National Bank got their runs quickly in their second innings, scoring at 4.20 an over, and will look to push for an outright win on the final day. Kamran gave them a swift start with his 74 off 72 balls but National Bank then slipped to 139 for 4. Jamshed and Abbas put together an unbeaten 109-run stand to give National Bank the edge.
Karachi Blues, who had fought back against Sialkot on the second day, took control of the match at the Jinnah Stadium in Sialkot on the third. They took their second-innings total to 432 to 9, putting them 349 runs ahead with a day to play. Shahzaib Hasan and Asad Baig had reached 121 for 0 by the end of the second day and took the partnership to 158 on the third. Shahzaib fell nine runs short of a hundred, while Baig scored 64. Wajihuddin also scored a half-century but a few quick wickets left Karachi 285 for 7. Captain Mohammad Sami, though, scored 61 at No. 9 to take the total beyond 400. Sialkot will face a tough chase on the fourth day.
Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited need seven wickets to beat Habib Bank Limited at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium after their batsmen set HBL a target of 376. HBL's top order put up a better performance than they did in the first innings, when they were bowled out for 156, but they were 101 for 3 by stumps. ZTBL had started the day 119 for 1 and took their score to 330. Sharjeel Khan scored 88 and Yasir Hameed completed his half-century too to lay a solid base. HBL took a few quick wickets but Zohaib Khan scored 72 to make sure there was no collapse. Danish Kaneria was HBL's most-successful bowler, taking 5 for 60, but his efforts look unlikely to be enough.