KARACHI: Central Punjab holders are back in business in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy after skipper Hasan Ali inspired them to a third straight win when they reached Balochistan at the SBP Sports Complex here on Wednesday on day three with nine wickets.
After taking 15 Southern Punjab wickets during the day on their way to a 10-wicket rout at the UBL Sports Complex in the other eighth-round fixture to end within three days, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa further consolidated their position at the top of the leaderboard.
In a deserved victory for the reigning champions, the Central Punjab-Balochistan game came to an end in the afternoon session as they knocked off the limited margin after Balochistan averted an innings drubbing on the basis of a valiant 138 seventh-wicket partnership between Umaid Asif (69 out of 100 balls, 10 fours and one six) and Jalat Khan Khan (65 off 86, five fours and two sixes).
Balochistan made a gallant effort to postpone the inevitable at 130-6 and still required 109 runs to make Central Punjab bat, but once the Umaid-Jalat stand was dismantled, the rot set in rapidly as Balochistan was bowled out for 285.
In the first innings on Tuesday, Hasan repeated his five-for act by adding two more wickets to his overnight haul of three before finishing with 5-76 in 17 overs, giving 10 for 108 from 26.2 overs to the 26-year-old Pakistan paceman match bag.
After taking 3-63 on Wednesday, Left-armer Waqas Maqsood also had a strong game with three wickets each over both innings to settle down.
Central Punjab, which remained winless at the bottom of the six-team standings in the first five-match championship segment, is still in fourth position but with a score of 102 points, only a handful of points behind Southern Punjab and Northern, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is practically assured of reaching the final after their last victory.
After only barely allowing Khyber Pakhtunkhwa bat again, Southern Punjab crashed to their third defeat in the championship. Before being dismissed for 290 in their first innings when reacting to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s 487, they doubled their overnight score of 145-5.
At one point, when their eighth wicket dropped at 189, Southern Punjab were in danger of getting all out under the 200-run mark. But all-rounder Aamir Yamin took it into his own hands by bludgeoning a stunning 93 out of just 55 deliveries while outscoring Mohammad Ilyas (6 not out during their 92nd-wicket partnership.
As the right-hander clobbered eight sixes and an equivalent number of fours, Aamir’s innings contained as many as 80 runs on boundaries. Opener Zain Abbas added 12 runs to his score of 64 on Tuesday before being caught by off-spinner Sajid Khan, LBW, who crossed the 50-wicket milestone this season as he finished in 21 overs with 5-104.
Before imposing the following follow up, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa skipper Khalid Usman caught 3-79. In their second innings, after being 98-5, Southern Punjab ranked 200. With a 102-ball effort of 77 (11 fours and one six), Mohammad Umair was the top scorer, while Khalid took 3-63 with Fakhar Zaman and Sajid sharing four wickets between them.
In the meantime, after reducing Northern to 126-4 of the TV fixture at the National Stadium after the latter trailed by a huge 311 runs in the first innings after discarded Test batsman Asad Shafiq had recorded a 25th century in first-class cricket, Sindh were heading for a much-needed second victory.
On Thursday’s last day of the match, with opener Sarmad Bhatti forced to retire injured, Northern have a real challenge on their hands as they still need 185 runs to escape innings loss with their main batsmen all back in the hut.
Earlier, just as drinks were due in the afternoon session, Sindh closed their innings at 514-8. With 117 in a 191-ball knock with 13 boundaries, Captain Asad stayed unbeaten. It is the second sound of the diminutive right-hander in the championship.
After Sindh resumed at 353-5 before being cleaned up by Mohammad Nawaz, Saad Ali (44) had partnered Asad in a stand of 115 for the fifth wicket, who also took two more wickets to finish with five for 108 in 24.1 overs, while Northern skipper Nauman Ali employed no fewer than nine bowlers throughout the innings with Nawaz not using as the eighth bowler until late on Tuesday.
Close of play scores and results on Wednesday (day three of four):
First XI, eighth round:
At National Stadium, Karachi: NORTHERN 203 in 68.2 overs (Mohammad Nawaz 79, Jamal Anwar 51, Mubasir Khan 26; Azizullah 3-48, Shahnawaz Dhani 3-49, Mir Hamza 3-52) and 126-4 in 45 overs (Faizan Riaz 31, Hammad Azam 25 not out); SINDH 514-8 declared in 143.1 overs (Sharjeel Khan 133, Asad Shafiq 117 not out, Saud Shakeel 81, Saad Ali 44, Saad Khan 41, Shehzar Mohammad 28, Mir Hamza 20; Mohammad Nawaz 5-108).
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At UBL Sports Complex, Karachi: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa beat Southern Punjab by 10 wickets.
KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA 487 in 147.1 overs (Adil Amin 172, Kamran Ghulam 160, Israrullah 49, Mohammad Wasim 29, Sajid Khan 28; Zahid Mahmood 6-163) and 6-0 in 0.3 over; SOUTHERN PUNJAB 290 in 64.2 overs (Aamir Yamin 93, Zain Abbas 76, Agha Salman 45, Ali Usman 29; Sajid Khan 5-104, Khalid Usman 3-79) and 200 in 50.2 overs (Mohammad Umair 77, Saif Badar 26, Zahid Mahmood 20; Khalid Usman 3-63, Fakhar Zaman 2-19, Sajid Khan 2-85).
At SBP Sports Complex, Karachi: Central Punjab beat Balochistan by nine wickets.
CENTRAL PUNJAB 369 in 103 overs (Ali Zaryab 117, Usman Salahuddin 73, Ehsan Adil 50 not out, Mohammad Saad 45, Ali Shan 28; Jalat Khan 6-116, Raza-ul-Hasan 2-65) and 49-1 in 13.5 overs (Ali Zaryab 22 not out); BALOCHISTAN 130 in 38.2 overs (Adnan Akmal 33 not out, Imran Farhat 30, Akbar-ur-Rehman 25; Hasan Ali 5-32, Waqas Maqsood 3-38) and 285 in 62.2 overs (Umaid Asif 69, Jalat Khan 65, Ayaz Tasawwar 50, Mohammad Talha 26, Ali Waqas 23, Ali Rafiq 20; Hasan Ali 5-76, Waqas Maqsood 3-63).