Water and Power Development Authority completed a thumping innings and 151-run victory against Sialkot at the Jinnah Stadium with a day to spare.
Ali Azmat and Ahmed Said, who had stalled Sialkot's surge with a doughty resistance on the second day, continued their effort well into the third morning. Azmat, who was on 112 overnight, progressed to 130, while Said crossed triple-figures as well, and remained unbeaten when the innings was declared closed at 429 for 8.
Trailing by a mammoth 303, Sialkot's second innings was only marginally better than their first. Sarfraz Ahmed wreaked havoc with a five-wicket haul, while Naved-ul-Hasan and Umaid Asif chipped in with two apiece to derail Sialkot, who were shot out for 152.
Habib Bank Limited's bowlers put their side on course for victory by stumps on the third day, after their batsmen piled on the advantage to finish with a mammoth first-innings lead of 361 against Faisalabad at the Iqbal Stadium. Ahmed Shehzad, unbeaten on 207 overnight, powered along to 254, but Salim Elahi was unable to drive home the advantage as HBL lost three wickets in quick succession following the marathon 371-run association. Their captain Hasan Raza, however, ensured that his side maintained full control, with a quick 69, inclusive of three fours and three sixes, before declaring the innings closed at 533 for 7.
Farrukh Shehzad settled into a defensive mode as Faisalabad fought to save the game, accumulating an unbeaten 46 in his near three-hour stay, but HBL made regular breaches from the other end. Qaiser Iqbal departed early, before spinners Danish Kaneria and Mohammad Aslam snared two more wickets to leave Faisalabad 248 runs in arrears with only seven wickets to survive the final day.
Islamabad held a slight upper hand against National Bank of Pakistan at the end of the third day's play at the Diamond Club Ground. Beginning the day at 201 for 5 - 151 short of Islamabad's first innings effort - NBP's lower order was unable to make a reasonable dent in the deficit. Nasrullah Khan and Shehzad Azam finished with four wickets each, while Hammad Azam held one end up for with his 61, but NBP still fell 63 runs short of the lead.
Hammad was at it again with the ball, snaring two early wickets in Islamabad's second innings. Mohammad Talha then got into the act, and at 52 for 3, NBP had a strong chance of running through the middle order. Ameer Khan and Ali Sarfraz, however, scuppered their hopes with a crucial 96-run stand to build the lead. Talha struck late in the day, removing both batsmen to give his side an opening, but unless NBP can strike early on the final day, this will be Islamabad's game to lose.
Rawalpindi's lower order authored a stirring fightback to neutralize Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited's advantage from the first two days, and leave the game interestingly poised going into the final day at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. Resuming at a wobbly 117 for 4 - still three runs short of wiping the first-innings deficit - Rawalpindi were propelled by weighty contributions from Nos. 6, 7 and 8, Babar Naeem, Zahid Mansoor and Adnan Mufti, into a position of strength.
Naeem began the resistance along with opener Shoaib Nasir who went on to make 73, before Mansoor took centre-stage. He struck 19 fours and a six in his attractive innings, and added 116 with Mufti, who made 65 off 98 balls. Mohammad Khalil dismissed Mufti to complete his five-wicket haul, but there was no respite for ZTBL who ran into a determined No. 11 in Sadaf Hussain. He played out 101 minutes and 55 balls, helping Mansoor add 65 runs, and take the overall lead to 296. ZTBL have a tricky final day ahead of them, and Rawalpindi will fancy their chances of setting a 300-plus target and pushing for a win.
Multan's lower order failed to capitalise on the strong foundation laid by their top half, and conceded a 72-run first-innings advantage, before their bowlers, led by left-arm spinner Ahmed Raza's seven-wicket haul, redressed the balance to leave the match against Sui Northern Gas Pipelines delicately balanced at the Multan Cricket Stadium.
Resuming their first innings at 226 for 5, Multan ran into a rut as they lost their last five wickets for the addition of only 40 runs. Kashif Naved, unbeaten on 44 overnight, did the bulk of the scoring on the third day but fell six short of a well-deserved hundred. Adil Raza and Yasir Shah were the pick of the bowlers, picking four wickets each as Multan were bowled out for 286.
Ahmed Raza got into the act thereafter, continuing from his six-wicket haul in the first innings as SNGPL floundered against his wiles once again. Barring Usman Arshad and Yasir Shah, no one managed to cross 30 as they were bowled out, two short of 200, setting Multan a target of 271. There was to be one final twist in the day's play, as opener Babar Ali fell to Asad Ali in the three overs of play remaining in the day. With 269 runs to get and nine wickets standing, it is anybody's game going into day five.