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Quaid-e-Azam Trophy: Central Punjab hand Northern six-wicket defeat

Bottom-placed Central Punjab came back from behind to defeat leaders Northern by six wickets with more than a day to spare while Southern Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were also sensing victories in their matches against Balochistan and Sindh, respectively, after third day’s play in the seventh round of first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy fixtures on Thursday.

After conceding a slender nine-run first innings lead, defending champions Central Punjab bounced back to dismiss Northern for 156 runs in their second innings and then reached the 166-run target for the loss of four wickets in the final session of the penultimate day’s play.

Mohammad Saad hit an unbeaten 50 (7x4, 81 balls) and Qasim Akram remained 23 not out as the two batsmen added 50 runs for the unfinished fifth wicket after Central Punjab had slipped to 116 for four.

Northern captain and left-arm spinner Nauman Ali was once again the destroyer-in-chief of Central Punjab’s innings when he followed up his seven for 84 with four for 69 to finish with match figures of 11 for 153 – his fifth 10-wicket haul in a match in a 76-match career.

Earlier, Northern had resumed their second innings at the overnight score of 77 for two and were dismissed for 156 with Ahmed Safi Abdullah claiming four for 46 and Hasan Ali grabbing three for 30. Ahmed rounded up the match with six wickets for 77 and Hasan finished with seven wickets for 78.

Victory meant Central Punjab collected 22 points from this match, which has lifted them from 54 points to 76 points. In contrast, Northern has earned sixth points and have now moved to 104 points.

A career-best 166 by Kamran Ghulam has put Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in a commanding position against Sindh. The 25-year-old’s 438-minute innings during which he received 295 balls off which 19 were converted into boundaries allowed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to reach 414 all-out after starting the day at 260 for four.

Sindh, who could muster only 229 in their first innings, had reached 120 for five when stumps were drawn and required another 65 runs to make Khyber Pakhtunkhwa bat again.

Opener Sharjeel Khan scored his second half-century of the match as he made 51 off 61, which included four fours and three sixes, while Saud Shakeel was unbeaten on 50.

Saud struck six fours from the 70 balls he has faced to date.

Kamran had started the day at 124 not out and added another 42 runs to his overnight score. He featured in a 129-run fifth partnership with Rehan Afridi, who was dismissed after scoring 87 from 123 balls with eight fours and three sixes. Kamran then added another 44 runs with Khalid Usman (25).

For Sindh, Mir Hamza and Tabish Khan equally shared six wickets, conceding 89 and 104 runs, respectively.

At the National Stadium and in front of the broadcast cameras, Southern Punjab’s opener Imran Rafiq and Balochistan spinner Jalat Khan dominated the third day’s proceedings.

Southern Punjab, with a 92-run first innings lead in hand and resuming the day at 149 for two, were dismissed after scoring 312. Their second innings was dominated by Imran Rafiq, who was unlucky to miss his fourth career century when he was dismissed for 97. He had started the day at 60 and his 217-ball innings included seven fours and a six.

Saif Badar began the day at 41 and was dismissed after scoring 53, while Mohammad Umair contributed a 101-ball 59 with five fours.

The star of Balochistan’s innings was Jalat Khan, who returned figures of 25.5-4-76-5, his sixth career five-fer, to finish the match with seven for 140.

Chasing an improbable 405 runs for victory, Balochistan finished the day at 112 for two with Imran Farhat (63) and Akbar-ur-Rehman (29) at the crease. Aamer Yamin took both Balochistan wickets as the pacer followed up his outstanding six for 47 in the first innings with two for 33.

When play will resume on Friday, Balochistan will require 293 runs for victory, while Southern Punjab will need eight wickets.

Scores in brief (day three of four, round seven)

At UBL Sports Complex, Central Punjab beat Northern by six wickets

Northern 243 all out, 57 overs (Asif Ali 72, Mohammad Nawaz 50, Hammad Azam 47, Umar Amin 29; Hasan Ali 4-48, Bilawal Iqbal 3-91, Ahmed Safi Abdullah 2-31) and 156 (Nasir Nawaz 42, Hammad Azam 22, Nauman Ali 22; Ahmed Safi Abdullah 4-46, Hasan Ali 3-30, Bilawal Iqbal 2-36)

Central Punjab 234 all out, 81 overs (Muhammad Akhlaq 67, Ali Zaryab 45, Qasim Akram 31, Saad Nasim 30; Nauman Ali 7-84) and 166-4 (Mohammad Saad 50 not out, Saad Nasim 39, Ali Zaryab 31, Qasim Akram 23 not out; Nauman Ali 4-69)

Match points: Central Punjab 22 (16 outright win, one batting, five bowling), Northern 6 (one batting, five bowling)

At State Bank Stadium, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elected to bowl (toss uncontested) against Sindh

Sindh 229 all out, 81.2 overs (Asad Shafiq 60, Sharjeel Khan 57; Irfanullah Shah 5-33, Sajid Khan 3-66) and 120-5, 36 overs (Sharjeel Khan 51, Saud Shakeel 50; Sajid Khan 3-40)

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 414 all out, 126.5 overs (Kamran Ghulam 166, Rehan Afridi 87, Fakhar Zaman 62, Khalid Usman 25; Mir Hamza 3-89, Tabish Khan 3-104, Shahnawaz Dhani 2-100)

First innings points: Sindh 2 (one batting, one bowling), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 8 (three batting, five bowling)

At the National Stadium, Southern Punjab won the toss and elected to bat first against Balochistan

Southern Punjab 256 all out, 79.5 overs (Salman Ali Agha 50, Zahid Mahmood 45, Zain Abbas 40, Saif Badar 24, Mohammad Imran 24; Taj Wali 3-66, Umaid Asif 2-35, Jalat Khan 2-64, Kashif Bhatti 2-90) and 312 (Imran Rafiq 97, Mohammad Umair 59, Saif Badar 53, Zain Abbas 33; Jalat Khan 5-76, Umaid Asif 3-103)

Balochistan 164 all out, 41.4 overs (Ayaz Tasawar 76, Bismillah Khan 24, Jalat Khan 20; Aamer Yamin 6-47, Mohammad Ilyas 2-53) and 112-2, 28 overs (Imran Farhat 63 not out, Akbar-ur-Rehman 29 not out; Aamer Yamin 2-33)

First innings points: Southern Punjab 8 (two batting, six bowling), Balochistan 4 (all bowling)

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