Sindh stretched to the limits by a spirited Central Punjab
KARACHI: Sindh was stretched to the limits by a spirited Central Punjab before winning by six wickets, while a clinical Balochistan defeated Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by 186 runs with more than two sessions remaining on the final day of the four-day first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy fixtures on Wednesday. After being set 212 runs to win in 50 overs, Sindh achieved the target for the loss of four wickets with 38 balls in the match remaining, while Balochistan, easily defended 413 runs against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after dismissing their opponents for 226 who had resumed their run-chase at 133 for four. In a highly competitive and hard-fought broadcast match played in good spirit at the National Stadium, Central Punjab made a sporting second-session declaration at 243 for seven after resuming at the overnight score of 120 for four. Usman Salahuddin was the top scorer with a 181-ball 75 that included six fours and a six, while Mohammad Saad struck his second half-century of the match while scoring a 166-ball 59 with nine hits to the fence. Chasing 212 runs for victory in 50 overs, Saud Shakeel anchored Sindh’s innings, first by consolidating his side’s position in association with Omair Bin Yousuf (44) to take them to 93 for two at the halfway stage, before accelerating the scoring in brief partnerships with Sarfaraz Ahmed (11) and Asad Shafiq (45 not out, 39 balls). Saud was the fourth batsman out with 45 runs still required after a well-constructed 61 from 70 balls with six fours, but Asad Shafiq and Hasan Mohsin (25 not out, 18 balls) ensured there were no further hiccups for their side. While Central Punjab played positively and aggressively, they must be ruing their decision to go into the match without a specialist spinner, which was further compounded by some sloppy late fourth afternoon fielding. But the encouraging and good news was the fitness of a returning Hasan Ali, who bowled 32.3 overs in the match without showing any discomfort and uneasiness. By virtue of recording their first victory in the revamped Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Sindh finished with 22 points, including 16 for an outright win, five bowling and one batting, Central Punjab had to content with three points, including one batting and two bowling. In the second round action on Saturday, 31 October, Sindh will travel to the UBL Sports Complex where they will take on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, while Central Punjab will take trip to the NBP Sports Complex where they will meet Northern. Spin duo of Kashif Bhatti and Yasir Shah equally shared eight wickets between them to spin Balochistan to a comfortable 186 runs victory over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at the UBL Sports Complex. Kashif picked up four for 69 and Yasir grabbed four for 102 as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, chasing an improbable 413-run target and resuming on the final morning at 133 for four, were dismissed for 226 before lunch. Adil Amin (67) and Kamran Ghulam (51) offered some resistance while stitching up a 104-run fourth wicket stand, but the two Balochistan spinners were too hot for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa batsmen to handle. Kashif finished the match with five wickets for 83 runs and Yasir Shah rounded up his first four-day outing of the tournament with eight wickets for 196 runs. From this match, Balochistan collected 25 points, including 16 for an outright win, three for batting and six for bowling, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had to settle with just two bowling points. Balochistan will now meet Southern Punjab in the second round fixture from Saturday, 31 October, in a broadcast National Stadium match, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will stay at the UBL Sports Complex where they will meet Sindh.