LAHORE   -   Northern made an impressive comeback in the ongoing first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy with a comprehensive nine-wicket win over Central Punjab, the title defenders, in the afternoon session of the third day’s play at the National Bank Sports Complex. 

The win helped Northern clinch 26 crucial points – 16 for outright win, four for batting and six for bowling. It was an outstanding bowling performance from their captain, Nauman Ali, which orchestrated the victory as the left-arm orthodox, dismissed six Central Punjab batsmen on Monday to finish the innings with 7-53 and the match with 11-108. Nauman, who was the highest wicket-taker last year, inflicted damage early on with a caught and bowled of Usman Salahuddin (14). 

Central Punjab had begun the day at 64-2 with an imposing 131-run trail. A 68-run alliance for the sixth wicket between Central Punjab captain Azhar Ali, who recorded his 54th first-class half-century with a 150-ball 63 after resuming the day on 24, and Kamran Akmal (49) was the only notable resistance. With 33 to win, Umair Masood’s quickfire 21 off 10 balls, half of which were dispatched for boundary, took Northern over the line in five overs with nine wickets spare. 

This is Central Punjab’s second consecutive defeat. For the third round of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, which begins on 6 November, Central Punjab move back to National Stadium to play Balochistan. Northern will take on Sindh at the UBL Sport Complex. 

The contest between Balochistan and Southern Punjab at the National Stadium was headed towards a thrilling finish as 18 wickets fell on day three. Southern Punjab were 70-3 and 84 runs away from the win at the close of play. Saif Badar and Umar Siddiq were not out on 23 and four, respectively, after they lifted their team from precarious 39-3 in the chase of 154.

Shan Masood-led Southern Punjab were bowled out for 331 in 92.2 overs after beginning the day on 245-5. Salman Ali Agha fell three runs short of a century. Over the course of his 141-ball 97 – studded with 13 boundaries – Salman added 63 crucial runs in his 115-run alliance for the sixth-wicket stand with Imran Rafiq, who was unbeaten on 56. 

Balochistan captain Yasir Shah added two more wickets in an extended morning session to claim his 33rd first-class five-wicket haul. The leg-spinner took two more wickets in the day when Southern Punjab came out for the run chase in the evening session. Balochistan’s second innings was wrapped in 31.3 overs with leg-spinner Zahid Mehmood doing most of the damage with 4-20.

Mohammad Abbas did the damage early on with the wickets of Abdul Rehman Muzammil and Taimur. At this stage, the scorecard read a paltry 20-3. On Tuesday, Southern Punjab’s Saif and Umar will continue 31-run stand for the unfinished fourth wicket partnership.

SCORES IN BRIEF AT NATIONAL BANK  SPORTS COMPLEX

CENTRAL PUNJAB 159 all out, 56.2 overs (Ali Zaryab 78; Nauman Ali 4-55, Raza Hasan 3-37, Waqas Ahmed 2-35) AND 227 all out, 64.3 overs (Azhar Ali 63, Kamran Akmal 49; Nauman Ali 7-53) vs NORTHERN 354 all out, 100 overs (Umar Amin 94, Asif Ali 65, Hammad Azam 56; Ahmed Safi Abdullah 5-106, Hasan Ali 2-36) AND 35-1, 5 overs (Umair Masood 21)

AT NATIONAL STADIUM

BALOCHISTAN 372 all out, 104.3 overs (Imran Farhat 116, Imran Butt 92, Taimur Ali 86*; Zahid Mehmood 3-101, Mohammad Ilyas 2-60) AND 112-9, 31.3 overs (Imran Butt 32; Zahid Mehmood 4-20, M Abbas 2-24, Dilbar Hussain 2-39) vs SOUTHERN PUNJAB 331 all out, 92.2 overs (Salman Ali Agha 97, Shan Masood 62, Imran Rafiq 56*; Yasir Shah 5-115, Khurram Shehzad 2-55, Taj Wali 2-66) AND 70-3, 21 overs (Zeeshan Ashraf 24; Yasir Shah 2-19)

AT UBL SPORTS COMPLEX

SINDH 361 all out, 127.5 overs (Sarfaraz Ahmed 131*, Fawad Alam 91; Khalid Usman 3-108, Sajid Khan 2-132) AND 74-3 (Omair Bin Yousuf 36; Sajid Khan 2-27) vs KP 307 all out, 105.4 overs (Israrullah 67, Rehan Afridi 53; Ashiq Ali 5-94, Sohail Khan 3-46).