KARACHI: Balochistan braced themselves for an anxious last day of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy first-class tournament match on Tuesday as Central Punjab closed in on a second consecutive victory after forcing the host team to follow on in their third-round clash at the Bugti Stadium in Quetta.
Elsewhere, Sindh were on verge of taking lead against Northern as the weather-hit fixture headed for a stalemate at Rawalpindi’s KRL Stadium, while the match at the Abbottabad Cricket Stadium has yet to see one innings completed as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa continued batting for the third day running on Monday against Southern Punjab as rain forced curtailed play yet again.
Balochistan, already in the mire at 119-5 in reply to Central Punjab’s massive first-innings total of 521-6 declared, made partial recovery to reach 271 all out with homebred wicket-keeper/batsman Bismillah Khan contributing a defiant 71 from 143 balls (nine fours and one six) with Amad Butt (39) and Yasir Shah (36 not out).
Azhar Ali, the Central Punjab captain who inspired his team to an innings and 100-run defeat of Northern in the second round, opted to ask Imran Farhat’s charges to bat again. In 45 overs of the second innings, Balochistan again found the going as they slipped to 87-5 after Imran Butt (19) and Azeem Ghumman (43) shared a first-wicket partnership of 56. In fact, the hosts lost three wickets for no run after the opening stand was broken by teenaged speedster Nasim Shah when slow left-armer Zafar Gohar sent back Azeem, Imran Farhat and Hussain Talat I quick successions.
Zafar, who scored his maiden first-class century on Sunday, snared three wickets for 66 runs in 17 overs.
Sindh were 257-4 after Northern failed to add any runs to their overnight tally of 271-9. Skipper Asad Shafiq led the visitors’ strong response with a fine knock of 77 not out. The Pakistan star’s 143-ball effort includes 10 boundaries, while discarded Test opener Khurram Manzoor hit up a 128-ball 54 (five fours) and Saad Ali 63 off 101 balls (nine fours).
Saad and Asad were engaged in a third-wicket stand worth 109 runs before Hammad Azam got rid of the left-handed Saad. Fawad Alam perished early for just five as the Pakistan reject was cleaned by an express delivery from Haris Rauf.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in the meantime, added 121 in 38 overs of play after starting the day at 174-1. Israrullah fell early on for 89 (180 balls, 12 boundaries) as the left-hander added only 12 more runs to his Sunday’s score of 77.
Ashfaq Ahmed, who reached three figures in the first two matches, moved within sight of a third ton as he reached 61 (113 balls, five fours and a brace of sixes).
Close of play scores on Monday (day three of four):
At Bugti Stadium, Quetta: CENTRAL PUNJAB 521-6 in 122.2 overs (Salman Butt 237, Azhar Ali 123, Zafar Gohar 100 not out, Kamran Akmal 24; Yasir Shah 3-163); BALOCHISTAN 270 in 85.2 overs (Bismillah Khan 71, Amad Butt 39, Hussain Talat 37, Yasir Shah 36 not out, Imran Butt 33; Nasim Shah 3-43, Waqas Maqsood 2-50) and 141-5 in 45 overs (Azeem Ghumman 43, Bismillah Khan 37 not out, Abubakar Khan 33 not out; Zafar Gohar 3-66).
At KRL Stadium, Rawalpindi: NORTHERN 271 in 102.3 overs (Rohail Nazir 67, Hammad Azam 58, Umar Waheed 35, Haider Ali 26,Nauman Ali 21; Kashif Bhatti 3-51, Tabish Khan 3-70, Sohail Khan 2-60); SINDH 257-4 in 82 overs (Asad Shafiq 77 not out, Saad Ali 63, Khurram Manzoor 54, Omair Bin Yousuf 36).
At Abbottabad Cricket Stadium, Abbottabad: KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA 295-4 in 86 overs (Israrullah 89, Sahibzada Farhan 78, Ashfaq Ahmed 61 not out, Zohaib Khan 20 not out; Mohammad Abbas 2-53) vs SOUTHERN PUNJAB.
Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2019