The Quaid-e-Azam trophy final still remained tantalisingly poised at the end of the third day. It was a day of two halves, with WAPDA initially appearing to seize decisive control, before a superb partnership by SNGPL’s middle-order batsmen Iftikhar Ahmed and Mohammad Rizwan restored parity.
The day began with WAPDA still trailing by 88 runs, but a crucial half-century by Kamran Akmal steered them towards SNGPL’s total, and eventually beyond it. Khalid Usman gave him useful support in the lower order, scoring a brisk 26, as Azizullah and Mohammad Abbas wrapped up the WAPDA innings, though not before Salman Butt’s side had managed to steal a 12-run lead.
They carried that momentum through to their bowling with a superb first hour of bowling. Waqas Maqsood was quietly lethal while Mohammad Asif was at his cunning, artistic best as a top order of Mohammad Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Khurram Shehzad and Asad Shafiq could not help be overcome by their genius. Asif’s scalps were typical of him, as he took the ball away from Azhar to extract an outside edge, while bringing it back into Shehzad to trap him in front. Before long, SNGPL were 21 for 4.
But just as the final looked to have revealed its hand, up popped Iftikhar and Rizwan, the same pair had bailed their side out in the first innings when they were reduced to 94 for four. But this was a different situation altogether. They negotiated a surging WAPDA attack, taking the buzz out of the contest as they settled in and slowly began to take their side to safety. They batted nearly 37 overs and were unbeaten at the close of play, both scoring half-centuries in a 120-run partnership. SNGPL led by 129 runs with six wickets still in hand, and the first hour on the fourth morning is likely to reveal which side the contest tips towards.