Arif, Abbas help Sialkot strengthen top spot

Group A

Mohammad Wasim's century and Junaid Khan's four-wicket haul helped Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) crush Sui Southern Gas Corporation (SSGC) by 131 runs in Rawalpindi. Wasim's run-a-ball 101 included 12 boundaries and a six and he helped them extend their lead of 112 from the first innings. KRL finally declared on 229 for 7, setting SSGC a difficult 342 for victory. SSGC's reply never really took off as they lost wickets regularly - the largest partnership of 75 for the fifth wicket between Wajid Ali and Ahmed Zeeshan being the only welcome interruption. In addition to Junaid's 4 for 40, Sohail Tanvir and Jaffar Nazir picked up two wickets apiece to bowl out SSGC in 88.4 overs.

A 75-run stand between Sajid Shah and wicketkeeper Farhan Iqbal for the third wicket gave Habib Bank Limited (HBL) a six-wicket victory against Lahore Shalimar at the Gaddafi Stadium. Needing another 85 to win, they lost openers Ahmed Shehzad and Imran Nazir in quick succession very early, but Sajid and Farhan ensured they was no further damage. While Sajid hit eight fours in his 47-ball 38, Farhan managed seven during his 37. Both fell with the score on 104, and it was then left to Fahad Masood and Khaqan Arsal to take them home.

Samiullah Khan and Imran Ali once again starred with the ball as defending champions Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) ran out winners against Pakistan Customs by 177 runs in Gujranwala. They declared on their overnight score of 224 for 8 and from then on the spotlight was on the seamers. Needing 281 for the win, the Customs batsmen were all at sea as both Samiullah and Imran picked up five-fors to end with identical nine-wicket match-hauls.

The Water and Power Development Authority(WAPDA) batsmen ensured some decent practice against table-toppers Pakistan International Airlines in Sialkot. With no play possible on the first two days, both teams emerged dry with zero points. Resuming on 89 for 2, the WAPDA batsmen looked in no hurry, with the highlights of the innings being the two half-centuries from Ali Azmat and Imranullah Aslam.

Group B

Naved Arif and Nayyer Abbas worked in tandem to bundle out Multan and help group leaders Sialkot continue their supremacy at the top with a comprehensive 239-run win in Okara. The declaration came when play began on the final day, as Multan were set a target of 340. It was a toothless display from Multan as the batsmen struggled - the highest score was 16 from opener Hasnain Raza. They eventually folded for 100, with Arif picking up 6 for 33 to finish with nine for the match, and Abbas taking the remaining four wickets for 22.

Islamabad battled bravely to secure first-innings points against Faisalabad at the Iqbal Stadium. Zahoor Khan and Zulqarnain had nearly pulled off an unexpected win for Faisalabad but Faiyyaz Ahmed's gritty 27 off 84 balls ensured the visitors held on at 164 for 7. Faisalabad resumed on 160 for 3 as Zeeshan Asif brought up his half-century and added another 50 runs with overnight half-centurion Usman Arshad. Both scored 75 as the hosts declared at 246 for 6, setting Islamabad 240 to win. Farrukh Hayat and Umair Khan provided a steady start, but Zahoor removed Hayat and Wasim Abbas, paving the way for Zulqarnain to trigger a middle-order collapse. Zulqarnain's 3 for 35 was a brilliant spell of bowling in which he accounted for captain Zohaib Ahmed, Imad Wasim and Rauf Akbar, but though it did rattle the visitors, it was not enough at the end.

The Hyderabad bowlers put on an inspired show to hand their team first-innings points against Abbottabad at the Niaz Stadium. Abbottabad were looking confident from their overnight 272 for 3, but lost Adnan Raees early for 76, trapped leg before by Lal Kumar. Riaz Kail continued patiently, adding 60 for the fifth wicket with wicketkeeper Fawad Khan. But Kail fell on 65, after managing six boundaries in his 201-ball innings. His dismissal exposed the tail and Kumar and Kashif Bhatti wasted no time, shooting out the visitors for 429, 42 behind Hyderabad's first-innings total. And it was Kumar and Bhatti who were at the crease when Hyderabad finished the day at 23 for 1.

Rawalpindi brought a dull end to the proceedings at Lahore City Cricket Association Ground, batting Lahore Ravi out of the match. They were quite content with the points gained by virtue of their first-innings lead of 37, as Awaiz Zia scored a classy unbeaten 125 off 210 balls with Babar Naeem keeping him company during the second-wicket stand of 143. Naeem fell four short of his hundred, but Usman Saeed continued the attack on the Lahore bowlers, putting on another 148 with Zia. Usman's dismissal on 85, with the score on 321 for 3, marked the end of the match which was called off after 76 overs in the day.

Fifties from Mahfooz Sabri and Mohammad Rizwan powered Peshawar to a lead of 252 against bottom-placed Quetta at the Arbab Niaz Stadium. Sabri fell five short of a well-deserved hundred, hitting 13 fours in his 145-ball effort, while Rizwan remained unbeaten on 52 when Peshwar declared on 303 for 7. The Quetta batsmen looked an improved lot from the first innings as the opening stand of Shahzad Tareen and Taimur Ali put on 59, before Nauman Ali dismissed both. At stumps, Quetta were 114 for 3 with Sabir Hussain and Ata-ur-Rehman holding fort.