Fast bowlers Yasir Arafat and Najaf Shah with four wickets apiece almost bowled Rawalpindi to a sensational victory over defending champions Sialkot, on the final day of their third round Quaid-e-Azam Gold League match at the Pindi Cricket Stadium.
A resolute display by Sialkot's tailenders who stubbornly stood in the way of what appeared to be an easy win for Rawalpindi, saved them with the last pair in and the score having reached a mere 108. The target was a near impossible 320 runs.
But at one stage, when Sialkot had crashed to 7 for 22, victory for Rawalpindi appeared to be a foregone conclusion. None of the first seven batsmen get into double-figures as Yasir and Najaf went on a rampage.
Rawalpindi, after having gained a first-innings lead of 100, declared their second innings at 219 for 6. Naved Ashraf scored 76 off 100 balls with eight fours and two sixes while captain Mohammad Wasim hit two fours in his 52, also off 100 deliveries.
Pakistan allrounder Yasir had taken 6 for 53 in Sialkot's first innings. He finished with a match haul of 10 for 100 while Najaf took 4 for 45 yesterday.
For Sialkot, Ijaz Ahmed -- returning to first-class cricket after a lapse of six seasons at the age of 38 -- and Shahzad Malik lifted their score to 58. The last-wicket stand between Kashif Raza and Sarfraz Ahmed was worth 34 in 28 minutes.
Karachi Harbour completed an impressive eight-wicket win over Peshawar on the final day at the Arbab Niaz. Peshawar, however, continued to head the points table with a tally of 18.
Karachi Harbour, whose sister outfit Karachi Urban had won by an innings and 111 runs against Lahore Shalimar on Saturday, reached the target in style. Their third-wicket pair added an unbeaten 155 runs with splendid half-centuries. Khalid Latif, a former Pakistan Under-19 captain, and Fawad Alam lifted the Harbour side to 175 for 2 after the wickets had fallen with only 20 on the board.
Khalid hammered an unbeaten 87 off 109 balls with 16 fours while Fawad, who swept away most of the individual awards in the recent Twenty20 Cup tournament, required a mere 79 deliveries to smack 74 with 11 fours.
Earlier in the day, resuming at their overnight 170 for 6 with a lead of 92, Peshawar were all out for 249. Karachi Harbour were left with a target of 172. Uzair-ul-Haq completed a haul of 5 for 53, which gave him match figures of 9 for 90.
Anwar Ali finished with 3 for 72. Peshawar captain Arshad Khan scored an unbeaten 42 off 72 balls with eight fours.
Peshawar -- national cricket title winners in 1998-99 and 2004-05 -- will now meet defending champions Sialkot in their fourth-round match, starting at the same venue from Wednesday. After having attained their first win of this season's championship, Karachi Harbour will play their next match against Lahore Shalimar at Gaddafi Stadium Lahore.
Abbottabad had to be content with just three first-innings lead points as Quetta saved themselves from an innings defeat and battled for a draw at the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) Stadium.
After having declared on 413 for 9, Abbottabad bowled out Quetta for 228 and with a 185-run lead, forced them to follow on. Quetta's batsmen played out the entire last day, losing their last wicket for 250 just before the scheduled close. They ended only 65 runs ahead, but there was absolutely no time left for Abbottabad to go for an outright win.
Quetta's first-innings hero Sabir Hussain followed his 92 with another crucial knock of 69. He faced 163 balls and hit nine fours. With Naseer Khan (37), his fourth-wicket stand was worth 76 runs.
Opener Shoaib Khan (31) and Umar Javed (39) also batted usefully. Abbottabad captain Sajid Shah and his new-ball partner Nasir Jalil captured 4 for 33 and 4 for 71 respectively.
Abbottabad will now meet Multan in the fourth round, starting from Wednesday at the Multan Cricket Stadium. Quetta will be playing against Lahore Ravi at the Lahore City Cricket Association (LCCA) Ground.
Looking to qualify for the Gold League next season, Islamabad displaced Multan from the top of the table as they gained full points from an eight-wicket win over Lahore Ravi at the Lahore City Cricket Asociation (LCCA) Ground.
Trailing by 280 runs, Lahore Ravi averted an innings defeat by scoring 318 in their second innings. Islamabad though required just 39 to win which they made for the loss of two wickets.With a total of 27 points from three matches, Islamabad are now at the top of the table. Multan took just three points from their drawn encounter against Hyderabad.
Adnan Raza took the fight to Islamabad, as he made an unbeaten 123, his second first-class century, and shared a 128-run stand for the fourth wicket with captain Kashif Siddiq. Adnan faced 220 balls in nine minutes short of six hours and hit 16 fours and a six.
Kashif's 70 came off 119 balls with 11 fours. Asif Raza (36) put up some resistance during his 80-run partnership with Adnan for the eighth wicket.
Azhar Mahmood took 4 for 75 to take his match haul to 9 for 108. Captain Rao Iftikhar followed his first innings 2 for 32 with figures of 4 for 92.
Lahore Ravi will now meet Quetta at the same venue in the fourth round, starting from Wednesday. Islamabad will play against Hyderabad at the Mirpur Cricket Stadium in Azad Jammu & Kashmir.
A draw made Multan slip to the second spot behind Islamabad in the Silver League ranking as Hyderabad got off free on the final day here at the Multan Cricket Stadium.
Multan, who had gained an 83-run first-innings lead over Hyderabad, scored 267 in their second innings. This left Hyderabad the difficult task of scoring 351 for a win. There was not enough time for either team to force the issue and Hyderabad finished at 197 for 7, still 154 runs short and with only three wickets standing.
Kashif Naved made another fine 70 in the second innings. Wicketkeeeper Atiq Ahmed made unbeaten 44 off 50 balls. Opener Aqeel Anjum top-scored for Hyderabad in their second innings with 76 off 122 balls.