KARACHI: While all eyes are firmly glued to the T20 Twenty20 Cup action until mid-November, Pakistan’s premier first-class season began on Wednesday with Test openers Abid Ali and Imran Butt taking opening day’s honours with Quaid-e-Azam Trophy centuries.
On a day when the batters were generally on top at all three centres — Lahore, Faisalabad and Multan — Central Punjab posted the highest first-day total of 293-3 against their derby clash with Southern Punjab.
Opting to bat first at the Multan Cricket Stadium, Abid surpassed 8,000 career runs on the back of an undefeated 132 — the 34-year-old’s 22nd first-class hundred — against a bowling attack led by Test seamer Mohammad Abbas, who is leading Southern Punjab.
Pakistan discard Ahmed Shehzad dominated the opening partnership of exactly 100 with Abid by contributing 63, while Hussain Talat (46) has helped Abid already put on 96 for the unbroken fourth-wicket partnership.
Captain Imran Butt starred at the Iqbal Stadium with 104 as he and Inam-ul-Haq (97) shared a first-wicket stand of 194 before Sindh hit back to force Balochistan end the day at 253-4.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, meanwhile, made solid progress to reach 240-5 against Northern at the Gaddafi Stadium after Sahibzada Farhan (71) and Israrullah (50) added 92 for the opening wicket. In-form Iftikhar Ahmed led from the front by making an unbeaten 50 by draw of stumps.
Close of play scores on Wednesday (day one of four):
At Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore: KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA 240-5 in 81 overs (Sahibzada Farhan 71, Iftikhar Ahmed 50 not out, Israrullah 50, Rehan Afridi 26) vs NORTHERN.
At Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad: BALOCHISTAN 253-4 in 85 overs (Imran Butt 104, Inam-ul-Haq 97, Abdul Wahid Bangalzai 32 not out) vs SINDH.
At Multan Cricket Stadium, Multan: CENTRAL PUNJAB 289-3 in 82.3 overs (Abid Ali 132 not out, Ahmed Shehzad 63, Hussain Talat 46 not out, Azhar Ali 25) vs SOUTHERN PUNJAB.
Published in Dawn, October 21st, 2021