KARACHI: A maiden one-day century from Danish Aziz on Wednesday put Sindh on verge of the Pakistan Cup semi-finals while Central Punjab were also in contention for the knockout phase by sealing their fourth consecutive victory.

Sindh were down for the count at 118-5 in the 26th over of their seventh-round fixture against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in pursuit of a tough 276-run chase at the SBP Sports Complex.

But young guns Danish and Hassaan Khan changed the entire complexion of the match as the left-right hand combination counterattacked brilliantly while sharing a game-changing partnership of 148.

Danish, 25, usurped his previous List A score of 86 by finishing on 101. Named man-of-the-match, left-handed Danish struck six sixes and five fours during an unbeaten 101-ball knock. Hassaan showed great temperament while contributing 51 off 55 balls. Sindh eventually secured their fifth victory to become outright leaders on the points table.

Earlier, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa found themselves in trouble at 177-7 but upcoming paceman Mohammad Wasim showed his batting prowess from No.10 slot to thrash 54 from 50 deliveries (five fours and four sixes) to emerge as the unlikely top scorer for his side.

After starting the competition with three defeats on the trot, Central Punjab are riding high with their latest victims being Northern — who ironically are heading in the opposite direction after chalking up three successive wins — at the UBL Sports Complex.

Central Punjab rode on solid contributions from skipper Saad Nasim (unbeaten 82 off 60 balls, five fours and four sixes), Rizwan Hussain (77 off 84, 13 boundaries), Raza Ali Dar (64) and Tayyab Tahir (53) to post 330-5.

Northern made a gallant attempt to stay in the hunt when Asif Ali (88 off 62, seven sixes and five fours) and Rohail Nazir (45) had forged a stand of 143 for the fourth wicket but once they departed, the rot set in as leg-spinner Usman Qadir grabbed career-best figures of 6-79 in his 10 overs to help his side bowl out Northern for 286 in 47.1 overs.

Promising slow left-armer Umar Khan was Southern Punjab’s star performer at the NBP Sports Complex as the 21-year-old returned his best analysis in one-day cricket — 5-42 from 9.2 overs — as Balochistan folded up for just 157.

Skipper Shan Masood (unbeaten 66) and Mukhtar Ahmed (63) put on 131 for the first wicket before Southern Punjab reached their target of 158 in the 35th over to move into fourth place in the standings.

Results on Wednesday:

Seventh round:

At SBP Sports Complex, Karachi: Sindh beat Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by four wickets.

KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA 275 in 49.2 overs (Mohammad Wasim 54,Iftikhar Ahmed 39, Sahibzada Farhan 33, Fakhar Zaman 31, Khalid Usman 26, Mohammad Haris 20; Anwar Ali 2-57); SINDH 277-6 in 48.4 overs (Danish Aziz 101 not out, Hassaan Khan 51, Saad Ali 49, Azam Khan 35; Asif Afridi 3-60, Arshad Iqbal 2-12).

At UBL Sports Complex, Karachi: Central Punjab beat Northern by 44 runs.

CENTRAL PUNJAB 330-5 in 50 overs (Saad Nasim 82 not out, Rizwan Hussain 77, Raza Ali Dar 64, Tayyab Tahir 53; Faizan Riaz 2-37); NORTHERN 286 in 47.1 overs (Asif Ali 88, Hammad Azam 46, Rohail Nazir 45, Haider Ali 38, Umar Amin 26, Faizan Riaz 22; Usman Qadir 6-79, Ahmed Bashir 2-56).

At NBP Sports Complex, Karachi: Southern Punjab beat Balochistan by eight wickets.

BALOCHISTAN 157 in 38.2 overs (Bismillah Khan 38, Ayaz Tasawwar 36, Amad Butt 26; Umar Khan 5-42); SOUTHERN PUNJAB 158-2 in 34.4 overs (Shan Masood 66 not out, Mukhtar Ahmed 63).

Friday’s fixtures (all start at 9:30am PST): Central Punjab vs Balochistan (SBP Sports Complex, Karachi); Southern Punjab vs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (UBL Sports Complex, Karachi); Sindh vs Northern (NBP Sports Complex, Karachi).—Khalid H. Khan

Current standings

(Tabulated under played, won, lost, points, net run-rate):

Sindh 7 5 2 10 +1.105

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 7 4 3 8 +0.214

Central Punjab 7 4 3 8 -0.277

Southern Punjab 7 3 4 6 +0.155

Northern 7 3 4 6 -0.242

Balochistan 7 2 5 4 -0.879

Published in Dawn, January 21st, 2021

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