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Second round of Quaid-e-Azam Trophy begins tomorrow

The first round of the first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2022-23 was a productive one for the batters as seven centuries and 17 half-centuries were scored across three matches.

The exciting bit – that sheds light on the quality of young cricketers - is the fact that five of the seven centuries were scored by the batters under the age of 30 and three of those five batters were 19-year-old Abdul Faseeh, 20-year-old Mubasir Khan (both Northern) and 23-year-old Abdullah Shafique of Central Punjab.

While Abdullah has broken into the Test side and established his credentials – most recently with a phenomenal 160 not out in the highest ever Test run chase at Galle this summer - the knocks of Faseeh and Mubasir underscore the depth of talent in the first-class player pool. Faseeh stroked his maiden century in only second first-class match and Mubasir, after winning the player of the tournament award in the previous edition, continued from where he left with a sparkling 170 not out. 

Two of the three matches produced results in the opening round - Asad Shafiq’s Balochistan and Nauman Ali’s Northern beat title defenders Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Southern Punjab, respectively, on the last day. Central Punjab and Sindh played out a draw.

The three second round matches will run from 3-6 October in Rawalpindi, Faisalabad and Abbottabad.

Balochistan v Central Punjab – Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi

Balochistan, after a 134-run win, will be high on confidence when they take on Central Punjab at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in front of HD cameras that will be livestream the action on the PCB’s official YouTube channel.

It was Balochistan’s youngsters who played a huge role in the side’s win with fast bowler Khurram Shahzad returning the match figures of seven for 128 and batters Abdul Wahid Bangalzai and Haseebullah – both 20 – scoring half-centuries. Their captain, Asad, will hope that the trio stretch their form in the second round.

Central Punjab – who bagged 13 points against Sindh in the first round match – will be hoping to produce a result-oriented performance. Test batter Abdullah’s maiden first-class double-century in the first innings followed by 61 in the second innings and Tayyab Tahir’s 152 in the second innings was the highlight for Central Punjab. While Mohammad Saad will be hopeful that Abdullah, Tayyab, and Aamer Yamin, who scored 70 in the first innings, continue to add to their tally, he would also want other batters to step up and his bowlers to pick up 20 wickets so his side bags 16 crucial victory points.

 

Northern v Sindh – Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad

Northern, the finalists of the last 2021-22 edition, had a great start with 25 points – the most bagged by a team in the first round. Dominating all four days, Northern became the first side to enforce a follow-on as they skittled Southern Punjab for 269 after setting a huge 529 for five in the first innings.

While Faseeh and Mubasir made centuries, experienced Umar Amin and Sarmad Bhatti were also amongst runs with half-centuries. In the bowling department, their captain, Nauman Ali, was duly supported by young left-arm orthodox Mehran Mumtaz, who took five wickets in his side’s opening match.

Fawad Alam’s remarkable 42nd first-class century and Sarfaraz Ahmed’s half-century rescued Sindh in the first innings and Saud Shakeel will consider himself lucky to have the services of these experienced Test cricketers. Saim Ayub’s bat continued to ooze runs – after his phenomenal batting at the top of the order led Sindh to their maiden National T20 title – as the 20-year-old made 71.

Sindh are high on confidence after starting the 2022-23 season with a surreal win and promise to give a tough time to Northern, who have played two of the three finals.

 

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa v Southern Punjab – Abbottabad Cricket Stadium


Both the sides will be eager to undo their errors of the first round and stage a strong comeback.

While Southern Punjab were outclassed by Northern at the Iqbal Stadium this week, there were few positives for them to take inspiration from. Opener Zain Abbas scored a valiant century in the first innings, while Imran Rafiq and Usman Salahuddin scored half-centuries in the second.

On the other hand, Khalid Usman’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will also look to capitalise on the positives which include a century and a half-century from Kamran Ghulam and Arshad Iqbal’s six wickets in the match.