Sialkot win thriller by one wicket
Sialkot won a thriller against Abbottabad by one wicket at the Gohati Cricket Stadium in Swabi, thanks to a 20-run ninth-wicket partnership between Prince Abbas and Mohammad Imran. Prince Abbas was run out with the scores level, but No. 11 Mohammad Abbas got a single off the second ball he faced to seal victory for Sialkot. In a low-scoring game, Sialkot had been set 164 to win and lost early wickets to seamer Ahmed Jamal. Jawad Ahmed scored 31 and captain Mansoor Amjad got 36 but Jamal completed a five-for to keep Abbottabad favourites. Amjad shared a 41-run stand with Prince Abbas to take Sialkot to 143 for 7 but once he was dismissed it took a gutsy show from the tail to give Sialkot the win. Abbottabad will rue the 24 extras they conceded, 18 of which were byes.
The match between Habib Bank Limited and Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) at the Gaddafi Stadium swung sharply on the third day and ended with WAPDA needing 181 more runs to win with nine wickets in hand. WAPDA had started the day poised to take the first-innings lead but lost four wickets for 30 runs in the morning to concede a lead of 12 runs. Seamer Imran Khan then ripped through HBL, taking 9 for 77 to bowl them out for 178. Shan Masood's 45 at the top of HBL's innings had helped them get to 80 for 2 but Imran caused them to slip rapidly. That left WAPDA with a target of 191 and they lost a wicket in the five overs they had to play at the end of the third day.
An interesting final day was in the offing at the National Ground in Islamabad where table-toppers Pakistan International Airlines fought back after giving away a large first-innings lead. Centuries from Faisal Iqbal and Sarfraz Ahmed lifted them to 361 in the second innings, setting State Bank of Pakistan a target of 230. PIA were in deep trouble at 144 for 5 - having just wiped out the deficit - before Iqbal and Sarfraz put on 146 for the sixth wicket to make it more of an even game. This match is particularly important as it features two teams in the top four - SBP are currently in fourth place, just four points behind PIA.
A five-wicket haul from seamer Shehzad Azam helped Islamabad complete a 130-run victory over Faisalabad in a low-scoring match at the Diamond Club Ground. Despite having been bowled out for 169 on the first day, Islamabad had managed a first-innings lead and had set Faisalabad 255 to win. Faisalabad started the third day on 32 for 1 and were shot out for 124. Only five batsmen reached double figures as Azam and the other seamers ripped through the Faisalabad line-up.
Rawalpindi hurtled towards defeat against Karachi Blues at National Stadium as their batting faltered for the second time in the match. Chasing a difficult 449 for victory, they had slid to 87 for 5 by stumps, having lost five wickets for 17 runs after a reasonably solid opening stand of 42. Offspinner Atif Maqbool took three wickets while Tanvir Ahmed, who played a Test for Pakistan little more than six months ago, snared two to leave Rawalpindi staring at a loss. Their efforts came after the batting, led by opener Asad Baig's 71, posted 256 to take Karachi's lead well past 400.
In Lahore, an even match tilted in National Bank of Pakistan's favour after Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited folded for 144 in the second innings. That put NBP in control of the game despite conceding the first-innings lead as they were left with a gettable target of 199. NBP made a strong start to the chase as well, knocking off 83 runs by stumps for the loss of one wicket. Medium-pacer Umaid Asif had earlier sliced through the ZTBL lower order to finish with five wickets, and he was assisted by fast bowler Wahab Riaz who took three wickets, including both openers. Only two of ZTBL's batsmen made it past 15, as NBP struck regularly to gradually take control.