Baluchistan 174 and 234 for 9 (Tariq 63, Yasir 6-87) need another 38 runs to beat NWFP 222 and 223
Legspinner Yasir Shah sliced through the Baluchistan batting to give North-West Frontier Province the edge after a see-saw third day in Lahore. The gripping match could still swing either way; NWFP need one wicket while Baluchistan are 38 runs away from the title.
Baluchistan's top-order, led by opener Usman Tariq's cautious 63, had put them on course for victory by taking them to 167 for 2. NWFP's main weapon, Umar Gul, had been blunted and the win was only 105 runs away. That was when Shah intervened, taking the big wicket of Baluchistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq, caught by the keeper for a brisk 27. The experienced duo of Saeed bin Nasir and Bilal Khilji were then dismissed for ducks, and Baluchistan had slid to 171 for 5.
Tariq now held the key to their hopes but he was bowled by left-arm medium-pacer Junaid Khan with the score on 190. Shah then took three more wickets to leave NWFP sniffing victory. However, the last pair of Azharullah and Zulfiqar Babar stitched together 17 runs to ensure the match was pushed into the fifth day. NWFP will still be fancying their chances as neither Azharullah nor Babar have batting records to boast of, having only one first-class half-century between the two of them.