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QEA Trophy – Central Punjab’s change in fortunes continue, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa extend lead

QEA Trophy - Central Punjab's change in fortunes continue, Khyber

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Despite a draw and conceding a first-innings lead, Northern held on to second place in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy

A wrap of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy matches after the eighth round

Central Punjab v Balochistan

Winless for first five rounds – three defeats and 2 draws – Central Punjab have well and truly turned around their fortunes to register a third-successive game to elevate themselves to fourth on the points table. Their latest victory against Balochistan was relatively formidable. A Hasan Ali half-century and a ten-wicket haul crushed their opponents twice for 130 and 285 in the space of three sessions to set up a nine-wicket win at State Bank of Pakistan Sports Complex in Karachi.

Central started off batting first with Ali Zaryab (117 off 178) and Usman Salahuddin (73 off 162) propelling the innings with their second-wicket partnership of 175 runs. Saad Ali struck 45 and later Hasan hit a 33-ball 50 to take the side to 369 in 103 overs. Jalat Khan was the pick of the bowlers, taking six wickets.

The Balochistan response was slow, as they lost two wickets for nought and were all out for 130 with Imran Farhat and Adnan Akmal hitting thirties. They were forced to follow on and made a relatively better innings, managing a 46-run lead lead thanks to Ayaz Tasawwar (50 off 62), Umaid Asif (69 off 100) and Jalat Khan (65 off 86). However, it took Central just 14 overs to chase the target down.

Northern v Sindh

Hammad Azam and debutant Mubasir Khan excelled in a tame draw against Sindh with big centuries as Northern stayed comfortable in second place with 111 points after three wins, two losses and three drawn games. The contest kicked off with a sparkling first day where Northern were bowled out for 203 with Azizullah, Mir Hamza and Shahnawaz Dhani sharing three scalps each.

Sindh kicked off their innings with Sharjeel Khan hitting 133 , including three sixes and 17 fours off 164 balls. Asad Shafiq, who recently lost his place from Pakistan Test side smacked an unbeaten century (his second in the season) to remain relevant at number six and helped the side to take a big lead of 311, declaring at 514 for 8. Left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz took five for Northern.

Northern turned up strongly in the second inning though they lost four wickets for 110 runs, but then Azam (145 off 226) and Mubasir (164 off 241) feasted on the bowling. Dhani, who was elevated from Sindh’s Second XI within the season, dismissed both centurions but by then the only possible result was a draw. Sindh, however, took 14 points while Northern went away with 7 points.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa v South Punjab

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa beat Southern Punjab comprehensively by 10 wickets to sit on the top of the table with 140 points. The victory was mainly set up by Kamran Ghulam and Adil Amin hitting centuries, taking them to 487 after winning the toss and opting to bat. It was Kamran’s third hundred of the season and he now leads the run chart with 873 runs at 62.35.

Southern were first ripped through by offspinner Sajid Khan’s five-wicket haul but not before Aamer Yamin pulled off a sensational 555-ball 93 alongside Zain Abbas’ 75. They could not avoid the follow-on, however, all out for 290. Khyber put Southern back to bat, wrapping them up for 200. Mohammad Umair’s 77 off 102 balls was the only notable resistance. They ended up giving a four-run target which was taken down in three balls by the Khyber openers.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent

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