Naved Latif lifted National Bank of Pakistan's (NBP) spirits and helped them reach a creditable 256 for 6 by close on the opening day of their first-round replay against Sialkot at the Multan Cricket Stadium on Monday.
Put in to bat, NBP lost opener Nasir Jamshed (13) early but a 63-run second-wicket partnership briefly lifted them before a flurry of wickets - three for 26 - pegged them back again. Fawad Alam then played a rescue act with Latif as they carried NBP towards the 200-mark before Alam was cleaned up by Nayyer Abbas for a 46-ball 33. At this juncture, Latif and Mansoor Amjad, NBP's captain, joined hands in an unbroken 75 run-partnership for the seventh wicket that took NBP to close.
Most batsmen contributed well as Rashid Riaz's 48 came off 124 balls with six fours, Naumanullah, already the highest scorer in the tournament, took his tally to 945 with his 34 off 58 balls. Latif's unbeaten 62 at close had come off 112 balls as Mohammad Ali, who finished with three wickets for 69 runs, took his tournament tally to 40 wickets.
The first-round tie between these teams in October was abandoned after unplayable conditions at Jinnah Stadium.
The 11th and final round of the Championship begins with three Group A matches from Wednesday in addition to five Group B matches. Habib Bank Limited (HBL) are on top of the Group A table with 66 points and a win against Karachi Whites in their final round encounter will take them into the final.
NBP need to win both their last two matches and gain the full 18 points. At the same time, they would be hoping that HBL are beaten by Karachi Whites. Group B leaders Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) have already qualified for the final, which will be played from January 1, 2008.