Quaid-e-Azam Trophy | Usman Salahuddin’s 139* lifts Central Punjab to 309-4 against Southern Punjab
A brilliant century from Usman Salahuddin helped defending champions Central Punjab post 309 for four on day one of their 10th round first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy fixture against Southern Punjab at the State Bank Stadium on Saturday.
The knock played a vital role in helping fourth-ranked Central Punjab secure three batting points with still 10 overs remaining.
Before this contest, Central Punjab were 17 points behind their opponents, who are placed second on the six-team points table with 128 points and are strong contenders to face Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the table-toppers, in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy final, a five-day affair which begins at the National Stadium on 1 January.
Thirty-year-old Usman was unbeaten on 139 – his first century of the ongoing season and 24th overall – at the close of play and had the company of Pakistan U19 all-rounder Qasim Akram, who made 12 not out and had scored his maiden first-class half-century in his side’s last match.
Usman crunched 20 fours from the 268 balls he faced. He stitched a remarkable 143-run alliance for the second wicket with opener Ali Zaryab (78, 11 fours) after Muhammad Akhlaq was trapped in front of stumps by pacer Aamer Yamin.
In the latter half of the day, Saad Nasim – fresh of a century in the last match – supported Usman as the 30-year-old right-handed batsman recorded a brisk 72 off 71, studded with five fours and four sixes.
The pair added 116-runs for the fourth wicket before Saad was dismissed by leg-spinner Zahid Mahmood, who took two wickets for 104 in 21 overs.
At the National Stadium and in front of broadcast cameras, scintillating centuries from Israrullah and Rehan Afridi kept Northern bowlers on the backfoot and denied them opportunities to gain crucial bowling points as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were 380 for four from 89.5 overs at the close of play.
Northern, ranked third and 14 points behind Southern Punjab, have 10.1 overs more to maximise the bowling points.
To date, they have bagged one point, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa earned four of the five batting points and are on course to add the last point when the play resumes on the second morning of the four-day affair.
Both, opener Israrullah and wicketkeeper-batsman Rehan, made 127 each from 142 and 167 balls respectively.
Israrullah smashed 17 fours and two sixes as he knitted a solid 158-run opening stand with Sahibzada Farhan (62 off 87, six fours and three sixes).
Rehan also smashed 17 fours but his tally of sixes stood at three.
Kamran Ghulam, who leads the chart for the highest run-getters with 960 runs and remains the only batsman to breach the 900-run mark this season, was unbeaten on 53.
On Sunday, he will have a new partner as Adil Amin (eight) was dismissed by Waqas Ahmed on what turned out to be the last ball of the evening session.
Northern’s Sadaf Hussain, Mohammad Nawaz and Mubasir Khan picked up the other three wickets.
In a match in which both teams are ensuring they do not end on the bottom of the points table, Akbar-ur-Rehman’s 125 not out had Balochistan placed at 314 for five in 90 overs after their captain Imran Farhat elected to bat after winning the toss against Asad Shafiq’s Sindh.
Akbar struck 14 fours and a six in his 204-ball knock, while other notable performances with the bat came from Ayaz Tasawar (72) and Imran and Bismillah Khan (both 42).
Veteran pacer Tabish Khan picked up two wickets for 63.
By the end of day one, Balochistan had gathered three batting points, while Sindh had earned one bowling point.
Match Summaries and Scores in brief (day one of four):
At State Bank Stadium, Southern Punjab elect to bowl (toss uncontested) against Central Punjab
Central Punjab 309-4, 90 overs (Usman Salahuddin 139 not out, Ali Zaryab 78, Saad Nasim 72; Zahid Mahmood 2-104)
Points to date: Central Punjab 3, Southern Punjab 1
At National Stadium, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elect to bat against Northern
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 380-4, 89.5 overs (Israrullah 127, Rehan Afridi 127, Sahibzada Farhan 62, Kamran Ghulam 53 not out)
Points to date: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 4, Northern 1
At UBL Sports Complex, Balochistan elect to bat against Sindh
Balochistan 314-5, 90 overs (Akbar-ur-Rehman 125 not out, Ayaz Tasawar 72, Imran Farhat 42, Bismillah Khan 42; Tabish Khan 2-63)
Points to date: Balochistan 3, Sindh 1