Islamabad started the Silver League final of the 49th Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Championship on just the right note, as they had Multan nine down for a modest 211 runs on the board, by stumps on the opening day of the five-day encounter at the Iqbal Stadium on Thursday.
Bilal Asad, the Islamabad captain, won the toss and put Multan in to bat. He must have rued his decision to do so as the openers went off to a bright start of 132 runs in a little over three hours.
Then, however, the nine Multan wickets fell only for the addition of 69 runs. Eight of the next nine batsmen failed to reach double-figures while Kamran Hussain, the allrounder, is still at the crease with an unbeaten 29, that's come in about an hour and three-quarters off 64 balls with four fours.
Usman Tariq and Saeed Anwar Junior, the two left-hand batsmen, gave their team a sound start. Saeed top-scored with 71 runs off 157 balls with 10 fours. Usman's contrbution was 36 off 137 deliveries with the help of four boundaries.
By the end of the day, Rauf Akbar, Saad Altaf and Zohaib Ahmed had all had the Multan players rattled. They took three wickets each for 43, 58 and 54 runs, respectively.
Multan's applecart was upset when the first five wickets fell within the space of 18 runs. Only the last pair now remains at the crease and Islamabad will look forward to dominate from here on in a bid to gain promotion to next season's Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Gold League circuit.
This match is actually a replay of the original final that was played last month in Islamabad. Due to rain no play was possible on the last two days of the five-day game and the first innings issue remained unresolved.
In that match Multan had the upper hand as the toothless Islamabad attack was hammered to the tune of 514-9 declared. In reply, Islamabad were five down for 212, still needing another 103 runs to avoid the follow-on.
Islamabad are again without the services of their three leading bowlers, as was the case in the February final. Skipper Rao Iftikhar, Azhar Mahmood and Shoaib Akhtar are again unavailable, the first two being part of the Pakistan team in World Cup 2007.