Rawalpindi, ZTBL reach winning positions

Mohammad Talha appeals for an lbw AFP

Rawalpindi ended day three needing 142 more runs to win with nine wickets in hand in their match against Sui Northern Gas Piplelines Limited at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. Rawalpindi added only one run to their overnight total of 271 for 9 but then bowled SNGPL out for 193 to put themselves in prime position to pick up what would be their second win of the season. The wickets were shared among the Rawalpindi bowlers with seamer Rizwan Akbar and captain Babar Naeem taking three apiece. SNGPL fast bowler Asad Ali got Naved Malik out lbw in his first over to leave Rawalpindi at 3 for 1 at stumps.

Three wickets from left-arm seamer Mohammad Khalil gave Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited a chance to push for their second win as they reduced Islamabad to 197 for 4 at the Diamond Club Ground in Islamabad. Islamabad need another 135 runs to make ZTBL bat again with a day to play. Seamer Junaid Zia became ZTBL's third first-innings centurion as he scored his maiden first-class ton of 89 balls, taking ZTBL's overnight score of 413 for 7 to 583 all out. From then on it was always going to be a matter of trying to save the match for Islamabad. Half-centuries from Nauman Masood and Zeeshan Mushtaq gave them some hope as they reached 189 for 2, but two quick wickets from Khalil at the end of the day meant that Islamabad will be looking up a very steep cliff tomorrow. Khalil's three wickets took him to the top of the list of wicket-takers in Division One this season.

Faisalabad's match against Pakistan International Airlines at the Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad is heading towards a draw after Faisalabad reached 334 for 8 at the end of day three in response to PIA's 438. PIA were on top at start of the day, but were thwarted by Zeeshan Butt and Naved Latif's 112-run partnership. PIA had another chance to seize control after Latif and Ijaz Ahmed jnr were out in quick succession to leave Faisalabad in trouble at 167 for 5. Wicketkeeper Mohammad Salman came to Faisalabad's rescue scoring a quick 95 and putting together a 124-run stand with Butt, who scored 93. Faisalabad have drawn their previous three games but have no points and look set to continue that pattern as they need another 105 runs to gain a first-innings lead.

National Bank of Pakistan and Karachi Blues' set up what could be an interesting last day at the National Stadium in Karachi as NBP took a 229-run lead with four wickets in hand in the second innings at the end of day three. They started the day by taking Karachi Blues' last five wickets for 61 runs to gain the first-innings lead. Karachi Blues had lost two wickets late on day two and their slide continued as fast bowler Mohammad Talha wiped out the tail to finish with figures of 6 for 90. Offspinner Misbah Khan then took 5 for 50 for Karachi Blues as NBP reached 172 for 6, with Fawad Alam contributing 85 of those runs.

Habib Bank Limited finished on top against Silakot after a topsy-turvy day three at the Jinnah Stadium in Sialkot. HBL seemed to have squandered the advantage after collapsing from their overnight score of 194 for 3 to 275 all out. Azhar Mahmood (48), the former Pakistan allrounder, and fast bowler Shahid Nazir (13) were the only two of HBL's last seven batsmen to reach double-figures as they took a three-run first innings lead. Fast bowler Waqas Ahmed took 4 for 54 for Sialkot on his first-class debut. Sialkot then collapsed to 121 for 6 to leave themselves 118 ahead with one day to play. Mahmood and left-arm fast bowler Kamran Hussain did the damage for HBL with two wickets each.