National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) have all but won the 2005-06 Pentangular Cup Cricket Championship after gaining a first-innings lead of 178 against Karachi Harbour with two wickets in hand on the second day at the Gaddafi Stadium.
After bowling out Karachi for 249 on the opening day, National Bank piled on the agony for their opponents with a splendid reply of 427 for 8 with Naumanullah, the captain, scoring a hundred. NBP resumed at their overnight score of 10 for 1, having lost Salman Butt cheaply again, and had slipped to 67 for 3 before Naumanullah lifted his side out of the doldrums with his ninth first-class hundred. His 134 off 168 balls included 19 fours and five sixes.
With Akhtar Sarfraz (21), he took the score from 67 to 123 and then joined hands with Qaiser Abbas for a 93-run stand for the fifth wicket. Qaiser's 63 came off 34 deliveries with 10 fours and three sixes.
The sixth-wicket stand between Naumanullah and Pakistan wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal (35) produced 61 runs. But the NBP batting display was not over as Imran Javed was still at the crease with 46. His eighth-wicket partnership with Mohammad Sami was worth 87 as the total went past 400.
Sami, who has continued to take wickets and score runs since being dropped by the national selectors, made another useful 43 off 71 balls with six hits to the ropes.
With two days still to go, NBP will obviously aim for an outright win and claim the Pentangular Cup in an emphatic manner. Even if they end level on points (27 each) with table leaders Faisalabad, in case they draw here, the trophy will be theirs as they have a better net run-rate and haven't lost a match.
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) conceded a first-innings lead to Sialkot but set for themselves an opportunity to win by the close of the second day at the Multan Cricket Stadium.
They surrendered a 69-run lead to Sialkot after getting bowled out for 209. But PIA ripped apart Sialkot's batting and dismissed them for a pathetic 66 in their second innings. This left them a modest target of 136 and by close of play PIA appeared to be the team more likely to win as they need 119 runs with nine wickets in hand.
This is an inconsequential match because neither team is in running for the eventual title. With a win here, PIA would get only six points though that will keep them at third place in the points table with a total of 15. Sialkot have collected six points.
The second day belonged to PIA's Jannisar Khan, who helped lift his team from a poor score of 112 for 6 with a 77-run stand for the seventh wicket with Imran Abbas. Imran's 67 off 189 balls included seven fours. Jannisar took 122 deliveries to score 55 with six fours.
PIA then demolished Sialkot for 66, with Jannisar using his medium-pace to full effect taking 4 for 11 in four overs. Sialkot's new-ball bowler Asim Butt performed well again with figures of 5 for 65 in 30 overs.
He was supported well by Kashif Daud, who captured 3 for 68. Only Inam-ul-Haq (26) reached double figures in Sialkot's second innings. Najaf Shah picked up nine wickets in the match, following up with 4 for 26 after having taken 5 for 54 in the first innings.
The experienced Fazl-e-Akbar, who has emerged as the top wicket-taker this season with 80 wickets in first-class cricket, took 2 for 23 to supplement his first-innings haul of 4 for 66 that also included a hat-trick.