KARACHI: While Southern Punjab’s Hussain Talat and Mohammad Abbas shared the day’s honours, Northern skipper Nauman Ali put Sindh under pressure in their third-round Quaid-e-Azam Trophy fixture here on Saturday.
Reigning champions Central Punjab’s bid to end their two-game losing streak was hanging in the balance when they lost ground against Balochistan at the National Stadium, while leaders Southern Punjab were battling to get in front of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in their fixture at the NBP Sports Complex.
After making brilliant recovery on Friday’s opening day at the UBL Sports Complex, Northern added nine more runs to their overnight tally of 319-9 before being dismissed for 328. Then it was the turn of their bowlers, led by Nauman and paceman Waqas Ahmed, as they curtailed Sindh to 217 all out, enabling Northern to earn a substantial 111-run lead on the first innings.
Slow left-armer Nauman grabbed five wickets for 62 runs in 20.3 overs — the 34-year-old’s 14th five-for — to follow his rich 11-wicket haul in the victory over defending champions Central Punjab in the second round. Waqas lent great support with the key scalps of Khurram Manzoor (6), Saud Shakeel (25), Asad Shafiq (35) and Sindh skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed, who was given out LBW on the first delivery he faced from the lanky right-armer.
Sharjeel Khan — who badly needs a big score ahead of Karachi Kings’ clash against Multan Sultans in the Pakistan Super League V Qualifier next Saturday — hammered run-a-ball 48 that included eight boundaries and two sixes before Nauman had him caught by Faizan Riaz.
Northern, however, suffered in the final session before they went to stumps at 45-3 and holding an overall lead of 156 runs.
Abbas, in the meantime, picked up five or more wickets in an innings for the an incredible 35th time in 113 first-class matches as the star Pakistan seamer added two more wickets on Saturday to finish with magnificent stats of 6-33 as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa reached 304 all out.
Hussain then took over to rescue Southern Punjab with his third century — and second in three matches in the ongoing championship — after the leaders lost half their side for just 106 runs on the board. The 24-year-old left-hander yet again nudged the national selectors with 131 off 180 balls (13 fours and six sixes), while sharing a sixth-wicket partnership of 148 with Mohammad Irfan, who is still at the crease with a 108-ball 71 (10 fours and one six).
Southern Punjab still require a further 48 runs to surpass Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s total as they collected 257-6 by close of play.
Kashif Bhatti overcame a bout of cramps to become the fourth player in the innings to cross the 50-run mark against Central Punjab as Balochistan posted 306. The right-hander, who is better known for his slow left-arm bowling, slammed an unbeaten 51 off 55-balls laced with four fours and three sixes.
Central Punjab lost wickets at regular intervals before reaching stumps at 204-6 with all top-order batting back in the hut. Captain Azhar Ali compiled a watchful 63 as the Pakistan Test skipper struck 10 fours during his 147-ball innings in 214 minutes. Usman Salahuddin contributed 44 but Test opener Abid Ali fell for only six in his first game of the tournament.
Close of play scores on Saturday (day two of four):
First XI, third round:
At National Stadium, Karachi: BALOCHISTAN 306 in 102 overs (Ali Waqas 73, Taimur Ali 63, Imran Butt 53, Kashif Bhatti 51 not out; Ahmed Safi 3-56, Waqas Maqsood 3-66, Bilawal Iqbal 3-66); CENTRAL PUNJAB 204-6 in 62 overs (Azhar Ali 63, Usman Salahuddin 44, Ahmed Safi 21 not out; Amad Butt 2-38, Taj Wali 2-46).
At UBL Sports Complex, Karachi: NORTHERN 328 in 90 overs (Mohammad Nawaz 73, Hammad Azam 64, Umar Amin 62, Nauman Ali 23; Sohail Khan 4-52, Tabish Khan 3-41, Fawad Alam 2-24) and 45-3 in 21 overs (Umar Amin 20); SINDH 217 in 57.3 overs (Sharjeel Khan 48, Fawad Alam 39, Asad Shafiq 35, Saud Shakeel 25, Sohail Khan 23; Nauman Ali 5-62, Waqas Ahmed 4-68).
At NBP Sports Complex, Karachi: KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA 304 in 103.3 overs (Adil Amin 90, Kamran Ghulam 64, Musadiq Ahmed 41, Zohaib Khan 23, Usman Khan Shinwari 22; Mohammad Abbas 6-33, Zahid Mahmood 2-91); SOUTHERN PUNJAB 257-6 in 72 overs (Hussain Talat 131, Mohammad Irfan 71 not out; Khalid Usman 2-58, Sajid Khan 2-64).
Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2020