Group stage ends with Umar Akmal blaze

Highlights - Umar Akmal's blistering century for United Bank (1:22)

Umar Akmal scored 116 off 114 balls in the Quaid-e-Azam Pool B match against Habib Bank (1:22)

Group stage concludes

In April this year, Misbah-ul-Haq featured in grade 2 cricket for his native Faisalabad side and helped them regain first-class status. A nine-wicket victory against Multan promoted Faisalabad to grade one, allowing them to return to the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Pakistan's premier first-class tournament. They had been out of it since being relegated at the end of the 2014-15 season.

Their time in the top tier, however, has been disastrous, with the side losing six out of seven games, the final game being abandoned due to fog that has gripped much of the country.

And so Faisalabad, now led by the offspinner Saeed Ajmal, finished rooted to the bottom of Pool A, managing just one point. SNGPL remained unbeaten, winning six matches, while SSGC, Lahore Blues and WAPDA qualified for the super eight round.

From Pool B, UBL, HBL, KRL and Lahore Whites went through to the next stage with FATA ending up bottom, losing five games and winning one. Pakistan Television, a department side that qualified for this year's tournament, also lost five out of six games, finishing just ahead of FATA. The next round will kick off next month and the final will be played on December 16.

Feast or famine for Umar Akmal

Umar Akmal's troubles of late have garnered significant media attention, the 27-year old losing his central contract and being ordered to return to domestic cricket and prove himself all over again. His Quaid-e-Azam Trophy season with United Bank (UBL) didn't begin happily either, with scores of 47, 6, 11 and 12 in his first four innings.

So when he was dismissed by Habib Bank bowler and fellow former international Umar Gul for a first-ball duck, it appeared he was continuing his downward spiral of the last few months. However, he stormed back in the second innings to play one of the innings of the season so far, smashing 116 off 144 balls in a reminder of the quality he can offer to any line-up he adorns. It helped his side amass 309 in the second innings and defeat Habib Bank by 142 runs. It may prove nothing, however; people have waxed lyrical about his talent for ages anyway. But if he can add consistency and discipline to the mix, he could plot a route back to the international team for the fresh start he clearly believes he deserves.

Salman Butt struggles

Salman Butt had pinned his hopes of returning to the international side on this year's first-class performances, but that call-up now seems a distant prospect. After a couple of stellar seasons, runs have dried up for the former Pakistan captain. He has only managed 264 at 20.30 this season - a performance that fell far short of the standards he would have set himself.

During the season, he came under the spotlight after he raised a question about sportsmanship following a close finish in which his side lost by four runs due to No. 11 batsman Mohammad Irfan being mankaded. It invited, given his past background, considerable derision. His national selection almost became a reality earlier this year before Pakistan's tour of the West Indies, but plans had to be shelved in the wake of the PSL spot-fixing saga.

Fawad watch

After a half-century last week, Fawad Alam stuttered again with the bat in what has been an inconsistent season for the SSGC captain. The slow pace of the game - only 15 wickets fell over the four days - meant he only got to bat once. He couldn't capitalise on the opportunity, and was out for 6. However, having qualified as the second-placed side from Pool A, Fawad should get the opportunity to showcase his class in the knockouts, and thereby continue to plug away at the ever-receding prospect of an international recall.