National Bank pile on the pressure for WAPDA
Table leaders WAPDA were faced with the danger of being forced to follow on by NBP currently placed at number two just behind their opponents in the 11-team Group A ranking. The 32-year-old Naumanullah, who had already crossed his 11th hundred on the opening day, was involved in a splendid second-wicket stand of 231 with the other centurion, 17-year-old left-handed opener Nasir Jamshed, who made 134. As NBP resumed at their overnight 278 for 3, Naumanullah started at 126 not out. His eventual 176 came off 330 balls in almost eight and three-quarter hours with 24 fours.
Later, however, only wicketkeeper Rashid Riaz made 52 from 82 balls down at No. 8, with seven fours and a six. His seventh-wicket partnership with Mansoor Amjad (28) yielded 78. For WAPDA, lanky left-arm medium-fast bowler Sarfraz Ahmed finished with figures of 4 for 70 while wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider snapped up five catches.
WAPDA soon lost three wickets with only 56 on the board. Then came an unbroken fourth-wicket stand of 65 between Nawaz Sardar (32) and captain Aamer Sajjad (31). WAPDA still need another 173 to make NBP bat again.
Habib Bank Limited (HBL), after managing a modest 233, hit back at Lahore Ravi, bowling them out for a mere 128 at the Lahore Country Club. After having taken a substantial lead of 105, Habib Bank extended that to 162 by reaching 57 for 1in their second innings by stumps.
In the Lahore Ravi first innings, in which only three batsmen reached double-figures, opener Kashif Siddiq top-scored with 61 runs off 151 balls in a minute short of four hours with seven boundaries. The Habib Bank bowlers performed superbly. Veteran pace bowler Sajid Shah, playing his first match of the season, returned figures of 4 for 50 in 12 overs. Left-arm Kamran Hussain and Fahad Masood picked up three wickets each, for 20 and 38, respectively.
At the at Sargodha Stadium, Faisalabad piled on the agony for Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) as they declared their first innings at a whopping 521 for 7. There were no individual hundreds but as many as seven batsmen crossed the half-century mark. Imran Ahmed, the middle-order batsman, top-scored with a career-best 84. SSGC were 52 for 2 in reply at the close, having started off needing a mountain to climb. They need to score 372 to make Faisalabad bat again.
Tall scoring was the order of the day at the Gymkhana Ground, where Multan rattled up a highly impressive 567 for 5 before applying closure. At 122 for 2, bottom-placed Pakistan Customs were left to score another 296 runs to avoid the follow on.
For Multan Rameez Alam, playing in only his second first-class match, scored an unbeaten 155 off 216 balls in five hours with 25 fours and two sixes. Rameez turns just 19 next month. Earlier, captain Abdul Rauf missed what would have been his career's maiden first-class hundred by a mere two runs. Sohaib Maqsood had a chance to score his second century in succession, but he fell at 96. His knock, however, came off just 63 balls and included 12 fours and four sixes in a 176-run fifth-wicket stand with Rameez.
Hyderabad's 20-year-old left-handed opener Aqeel Anjum, who had scored his first-class career's first century on day one, contributed a double-hundred in his team's 415 against hosts Sialkot at the Jinnah Stadium. No other batsman reached even fifty. Aqeel's monumental 204 was made off 375 balls in almost eight and a half hours and included as many as 33 boundaries. Sialkot were 48 for no loss at stumps.
Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) continued to make sure that former Group B leaders Islamabad, who are now down at number three, stay where they are as they compiled an exact 400 at the Diamond Cricket Club Ground in Islamabad.
This total has given SNGPL, who are at number two in the 11-team Group B ranking, a big first-innings lead of 222. Islamabad were 25 for 1 in their second innings by the day's close. Middle-order batsman Khurram Shahzad followed his career-best 166 in a sixth-round match against Peshawar with another magnificent 145 not out, that took him a mere 134 balls to make with 18 fours and a six. With Tauqeer Hussain (58), his sixth-wicket stand was worth 135.
After only 41 overs could be bowled on the opening day, in which Lahore Shalimar limped to 143 for 8, 14 wickets fell on the second at the Sheikhupura Stadium after almost 70 overs were completed before fading late forced an early close. Lahore Shalimar, however, gained a slender first-innings lead of 22 as they dismissed Karachi Blues for a 135 in reply to their total of 157. By stumps the Lahore team were 83 for 2 having enhanced their lead to 105.
Karachi's woes started as their left-handed opener Shadab Kabir, a former Pakistan player, perished for a third-ball duck following scores of 167 and 84 in the previous match against Abbottabad. Sharjeel Ashraf top-scored with 37 while Faraz Ahmed chipped in with 25 down the order. There were 24 Extras but Lahore's 19-year-old right-arm fast bowler Mohammad Naved, playing in only his second first-class match, had the last laugh with career-best figures of 6 for 51. In his debut match, the drawn encounter against Rawalpindi, Naved captured 6 for 91 and 3 for 90.
Earlier, allrounder Tariq Haroon took 4 for 70 for Karachi while left-arm fast bowler Malik Aftab returned figures of 3 for 59. Asif Khan, Shalimar's opener, was unbeaten on 39 from 81 balls.
Both teams are certainly not in contention for a place in the tournament final. With 12 points from five matches, Karachi Blues are placed at number seven in the 11-team Group B table. Lahore Shalimar are even further down at the ninth spot with a mere nine points from six previous appearances.
At the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) Stadium in Rawalpindi, table leaders Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) sailed past Quetta with a first-innings score of 276 for 5, that has laready given them a lead of 105 runs.
Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited (ZTBL) took their overnight 247 for 6 to 286 all out against Abbottabad at the Abbottabad Cricket Stadium. The home team were 184 for 4 in reply, requiring another 103 runs to attain the first-innings lead.
KRL took control of their match over hosts Peshawar at the Arbab Niaz Stadium, having made 452 runs for 6 declared. The left-handed Saeed Anwar, unbeaten at 86 overnight, went on to make 130 runs. Bilal Asad (105) and Yasir Arafat (100) made unbeaten centuries as the unbroken seventh-wicket stand produced 172. Medium-pacer Yasir, who made his unbeaten 100 off only 99 balls with eight fours and three sixes, then took 4 for 40 as Peshawar went in to bat. Peshawar then crashed to a poor 94 for 5. They need to score another 208 with five wickets in hand to avert the follow on.