Defending champions Sialkot were forced to follow on by Karachi Urban on the third day of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Gold League final at the Multan Cricket Stadium and the prospect of defeat loomed large with two days remaining. Sialkot conceded a lead of 220 after they were dismissed for 183 but fought back quite capably in the second innings.
At 175 for 3, Sialkot are still 45 runs short of Karachi with seven wickets in hand. But some of their batsmen have showed resilience in the face of adversity and emerged with their heads high. Sialkot captain Ijaz Ahmed had gone through 16 first-class innings without a half-century -- since his knock of 115 against Australia in the Perth Test in November 1999. Last month, he made a comeback to national cricket after a lapse of six years.
In his previous six innings in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy tournament, he had mustered a mere 68 runs. Yesterday, he contributed 68 more, hitting 10 fours while facing 103 balls. He helped lift Sialkot's score from 71 for 5 to an eventual 183. It was not enough to save them from following on. Fast bowler Rajesh Ramesh picked up 5 for 48 with Imran Javed getting 3 for 47.
Opener Atiq-ur-Rehman hit a resolute 70 in the second innings off 131 balls with 11 fours. Tariq Mahmood, who had made two off 49 balls in the first innings was again in a stonewalling mood. He stayed at the crease for almost three and a half hours scoring an unbeaten 20 off 166 balls with a solitary four.
Tariq helped Atiq add 79 runs for the second wicket. Then Haafiz Khalid, the wicketkeeper, came in and hammered 58 runs off 60 balls with eight fours and two sixes as he dominated the 69-run third-wicket stand with Tariq.