Plucky Peshawar makes it two out of two
Despite the tired, but inescapable narrative of the departments reigning supreme against the regions in the Quaid-e-Azam trophy, Peshawar continues to defy the odds in the second round. Fresh from an upset victory in the first round against KRL, they achieved another commanding performance while defeating another departmental power. This time it was HBL who was victim of Peshawar, who achieved a victory of six positions.
The start of Peshawar is even more remarkable for a team completely devoid of renowned talent; the starting eleven does not have a single test cap. In fact, there is only one international limit between the eleven, awarded to Sahibzada Farhan, who played a lonely T20I earlier this year. He played a crucial role in the fourth possibility, scoring 46 while putting in a century partnership with Ashfaq Ahmed, who was undefeated in 68, while pursuing what might have been a complicated goal of 159.
Step standards under re-scrutiny
The Quaid-e-Azam trophy last season was filled with claims of pitches that were not ready for first-class cricket, and it did not take too long to have the first two-day finish in 2018 season. He arrived at the entrenched Diamond Club Ground in Islamabad, the same place where he earned the wrath of Imran Farhat and an accusation that a plague of insects had sent more than half of his team to the hospital.
It was on the field, however, that the batters fought to stop the bleeding when the wicket fell after the first day's ticket, and well before the end of the second session, the local team had been reduced to 88. In these circumstances, KRL was placed in an almost impregnable 176 thanks to a half century by Usman Arshad, doubling the score of the first possibility. Rawalpindi did not fare much better the second time, and while his tickets ended in a pitiful 118, KRL had only 31 races to chase and record his first points on the board. They did it without the loss of a wicket, and before the break had arrived at this four-day game, it was time to go home.
A giant wakes up from his dream
Traditional giants SNGCP Will have been disappointed with just a draw in the opening round, which has failed to stand out in terms of points. Wounded in action, they exhibited a fearsome display in this round, routing FATA for an inning and 52 races. All the damage was done in the first possibility, as Imran Butt and Iftikhar Ahmed scored 111 and 145 respectively to help their team accumulate 461. And while the FATA were energetic in their response, Samiullah scored a hundred, it was not enough to to prevent his team from giving a 195-race lead to Mohammad Hafeez's men.
Hafeez, who recently was omitted on the team for the Asian Cup that starts on Sunday, had promised not to retire, and instead won his place on the national side through performances on the national circuit. He could not have wished for a better start, since in the second chance he took six wickets for 62, helping to get FATA out by 143 and winning a chance for victory for his team.
Stars of the final part in the WAPDA victory  There was a time 18 months ago when Salman Butt was about to make a spectacular return to the international side. When the QeA began last year, it was still conceivable that it could be called, depending on how it performed. It turned out that he had a disappointing year, Imam-ul-Haq burst onto the scene, and Butt's moment passed.
While the chances of an international call seem extremely grim soon, Butt has, to his credit, remained plugged into the domestic circuit. As a WAPDA captain, he led from the front to help them recover from a first-round loss to the Karachi whites, scoring 68 and 49 by beating Multan for 7 wickets. However, he did not score in any of the innings. Adnan Raees led the charge in the first chance with 91, while wicketkeeper batter Ali Shan played without a doubt the most important blow of the game in the fourth possibility, his unbeaten 96 watching WAPDA comfortably pursuing a non-negligible goal of 175.