Pakistan Customs were faced with the uphill task of making another 202 to avert an innings defeat, as the third day of their Patron's Trophy Cricket Championship match against Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) ended at the United Bank Limited (UBL) Sports Complex Ground No.1 at Karachi.

Capitalising on their first innings lead of 119 attained on Thursday, PIA took their total to 523 for 7 before Faisal Iqbal, the captain, applied closure with a big advantage of 324. By the close of play, Customs had compiled 122 for 2 rather comfortably in their second innings; but they are still not out of the woods and would at least like to limit PIA to just three points in case they manage a draw.

After Kamran Sajid, the opening batsman, and Faisal had scored individual hundreds in PIA's overnight total of 318 for 5, Mahmood Hamid, the veteran, also joined the party with a hundred of his own. Mahmood, who turns 37 next month, hit an unbeaten 124 off 192 balls in a little over four hours with the help of 11 fours and a six. More than a decade ago, Mahmood had played a solitary one-day international for Pakistan in Sharjah, being run out for one run. Yesterday, he completed his 21st century in 170 first-class matches, but he had not achieved this mark in three years' time.

With Faisal, who was dismissed after making 122 off 271 balls with 14 fours and a six, Mahmood's sixth-wicket stand produced 84. Tahir Khan, the offspinner, then hammered an unbeaten 69 off only 76 deliveries with six fours and three sixes in an the unbroken eighth-wicket partnership worth an incredible 132 in 109 minutes.

Customs were off to a good start of 77, with Kashif Siddiq, the left-handed batsman, hitting a quick 31. Hasnain Abbas was still at the crease with an unbeaten 55 off 101 balls in two and a quarter hours. PIA and Customs had started the fourth round with an identical record: six points each from two matches. Now, PIA have enhanced their chances of qualifying for the tournament's Quadrangular Stage round.

Needing an outright win to at least give themselves a chance to avoid relegation to the non-first-class Grade-II circuit, Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) set Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) a target of 350 for victory on the third day of their fourth-round Patron's Trophy match at the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) Sports Complex at Karachi.By the close of play, SNGPL were tottering at 26 for 2, having lost two important batsmen, Mohammad Hafeez and Sufyan Munir, with only one run scored between them.

KRL had earlier attained a surprise first innings lead of 63 over SNGPL, dismissing them for a rather poor 157 on Thursday. Following that solid performance by the bowlers, Saeed Anwar Junior, KRL's left-handed opener, hit a fine 106 off 218 balls in just over five and a quarter hours with seven boundaries. It was the eighth first-class hundred for Saeed, a former Pakistan Under-19 representative. He was ably supported in an opening stand of 96 by Mohtashim Ali, also left-handed, who hit four fours in his 38 off 101 deliveries. Later, Azhar Ali, KRL's first-innings hero, followed his top-score of 39 not out with 64 off 122 balls. His fourth-wicket stand with Saeed was worth 83.

KRL declared at 286 for 7 as soon as Saeed Ajmal was dismissed. Hafeez, with his offspinners, and Imran Khalid, the slow left-arm bowler, captured three wickets each for SNGPL. Even if KRL gain nine points from this match, they remain faced with the danger of relegation to next season's Grade-II circuit. They were beaten in all their first three matches and are making their last appearance in the league round.

SNGPL are currently placed second in the five-team Group A table behind Habib bank, with nine points from two matches. They still have one more game in hand and their main aim is to qualify for the tournament's Quadrangular Stage round.

Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) snatched a crucial first-innings lead from Service Industries on the third day of their Patron's Trophy match at the Sheikhupura Stadium on Friday. At the start of play yesterday, ZTBL began at 191 for 9 in 60 overs, a score which had placed them equal with Service Industries after they were dismissed for an identical 191 in their first innings.

By stumps, Service Industries had reached 184 for 6 in their second innings which gives them an advantage of 159 with one day to go. But this total would not have been possible if the lion's share of runs had not been made by Afaq Rahim, their opener. Afaq, 20, who has played under-19 international cricket for Pakistan, scored his fourth hundred in 18 first-class matches. His 102 came off 154 balls with 12 boundaries.

Earlier, ZTBL's last-wicket pair of Mohammad Siddiq and Naeem Anjum took the total to 216 with an invaluable stand of 44, giving their side a lead of 25. Siddiq, who later took 4 for 51, remained unbeaten with 39, scored off 63 balls with three fours.

Service Industries had qualified for the first-class tournament after winning the Patron's Trophy Grade-II title last season. They appear to be going towards demotion again.

Only 15.2 overs could be bowled on the third day of the Patron's Trophy match at the Lahore City Cricket Association (LCCA) Ground on Friday as Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) continued their first innings to reach Only 249 for 9 against National Bank of Pakistan (NBP). On the three days of play, only 83 overs have been possible due to heavy fog, bad weather and poor light. WAPDA still haven't compiled a competent first-innings score and, in case NBP bat on the final day, their position is not quite safe.

A thick blanket of fog had reduced the first day's play to a mere 45 deliveries while Thursday had seen 60.1 overs being bowled. Bilal Khilji, the Bahawalpur batsman, meanwhile is nearing his fourth first-class century with an unbeaten 91 to his name. Khilji, 30, has batted for just over four hours, having faced 176 balls with nine fours. WAPDA had started the day at 216 for 6.

Both teams have been strengthened by the inclusion of several Pakistan stars. Mohammad Yousuf, however, managed only 11 runs for WAPDA before being dismissed by Mohammad Sami, Pakistan's fast bowler. Mushtaq Ahmed, the former Pakistan legspinner, was also in the WAPDA line-up. Sami has taken 2 for 74 runs in 24 overs. Yasir Arafat, the young medium-fast bowler, bagged 2 for 55 in 14 overs while Kamran Akmal held two catches behind the stumps. Salman Butt, Pakistan's left-handed opener, is also playing for the NBP.

WAPDA, who were the tournament runners-up in 2003-04, are at second place in the five-team Group B table with 12 points from two matches. NBP have been Patron's Trophy champions on five occasions and they are at the third spot with a tally of nine points.