KARACHI: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa staged a wonderful comeback through an undefeated century from Kamran Ghulam against Balochistan on the opening day of second-phase fixtures in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy here on Wednesday.
Reigning champions Central Punjab lost initiative when Sindh paceman Tabish Khan picked uo two late wickets while Southern Punjab’s first innings concluded against Northern in their top-of-the-table clash.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan both went into their fixture at the SBP Sports Complex with equal number of points but the latter went ahead by taking three bowling points by stumps.
Opting to bat after the toss was uncontested, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa suffered early jolts when Khurram Shehzad removed openers Musadiq Ahmed (1) and Israrullah (19) as well as Fakhar Zaman — who was withdrawn from the New Zealand-bound Pakistan squad after contracting fever on eve of team’s departure — to leave them reeling at 41-3. Fakhar was trapped LBW for four.
Fellow seamer Umaid Asif then dismissed Mohammad Wasim (8) and Adil Amin (4) as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa found themselves in strife at 64-5.
But Kamran, who had to the crease at 15-2, then found a reliable partner in wicket-keeper/batsman Rehan Afridi as the pair put on 95 for the sixth wicket in 129 minutes. At this stage, Rehan fell to left-arm paceman Taj Wali for 58.
Captain Khalid Usman — fresh from his maiden first-class century in the previous round — helped solidified the innings by adding 65 with Kamran. Khalid scored 27.
Kamran, however, showed resilience as the 25-year-old right-hander completed his fifth hundred at the first-class level before finishing the day on 130 (227 balls, 14 boundaries and two sixes) as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa posted a healthy 292-9.
Test discard Usman Salahuddin hit up 80 on his 30th birthday while inspiring Central Punjab to 232-5 after the toss was not contested while Sindh chose to field first in the televised game at the National Stadium.
But Central Punjab could have been better placed when they had made 165-2. Left-handed opener Ali Zaryab contributed 56 as he and Usman shared a second-wicket partnership of 115 on either side of the lunch interval.
Mohammad Saad and skipper Saad Nasim both fell in the 40s — making 41 and 44, respectively — to Tabish at the fag end of the day’s action to enable the Asad Shafiq-led Sindh have slight advantage.
Southern Punjab also suffered hiccups upfront after winning the toss and deciding to bat as they slumped to 46-3 at the UBL Sports Complex. Umar Siddique produced a captain’s innings as the left-hander top-scored with 89 while stitching a fourth-wicket stand of 143 with Saif Badar who scored 81.
Agha Salman struck a bright 53 but the Northern bowlers continued to pick up wickets at regular intervals and eventually bowled out Southern Punjab for 285 before facing one over in reply.
Close of play scores on Wednesday (day one of four):
First XI, sixth round:
At National Stadium, Karachi: CENTRAL PUNJAB 232-5 in 87 overs (Usman Salahuddin 80, Ali Zaryab 56, Saad Nasim 44, Mohammad Saad 41; Tabish Khan 2-28) vs SINDH.
At UBL Sports Complex, Karachi: SOUTHERN PUNJAB 285 in 86.3 overs (Umar Siddique 89, Saif Badar 81, Agha Salman 53, Aamir Yamin 26, Zeeshan Ashraf 25; Sadaf Hussain 3-45, Munir Riaz 2-39, Nauman Ali 2-51); NORTHERN 6-0 in 1 over.
At SBP Sports Complex, Karachi: KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA 292-9 in 83.4 overs (Kamran Ghulam 130 not out, Rehan Afridi 58, Khalid Usman 27; Umaid Asif 3-69, Khurram Shehzad 3-78, Taj Wali 2-70) vs BALOCHISTAN.
Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2020