LAHORE     -    Central Punjab took control of their Quaid-e-Azam Trophy four-day first-class match against Northern at the Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad on Wednesday. Day-three of the match belonged to Central Punjab’s batsmen as Rizwan Hussain’s 110, Umar Akmal’s 73 and Usman Salahuddin’s unbeaten 72 helped the home side amass 345 for six declared in their second innings.

Set a 381-run target, Northern were struggling to avoid a defeat as they stumbled to 121 for five by close of play, still needing a further 260 runs for a win with only five second innings wickets remaining. Zeeshan Malik with 52 off 58 balls, nine fours and one six was the only one to confront the Central Punjab bowlers with some confidence. The spin duo of Bilal Asif and Zafar Gohar who shared seven wickets in the first innings took all five wickets to fall. Zafar has so far taken three for 46 in 20 overs while Bilal has taken two wickets for 38 runs in 13 overs.

Earlier, resuming at the overnight score of 137 for two, Central Punjab pushed on the accelerator by adding 116 runs for the loss of two wickets in the first session of the day. They maintained their run scoring momentum in the second session before declaring the innings. Opener Rizwan Hussain compiled his 110 off 123 balls, striking eight fours and four sixes. Umar Akmal who made fifties in both innings, was dismissed for 73, he faced 90 balls and struck nine fours and two sixes.

Usman faced 97 balls for his unbeaten 72 that included seven fours and three sixes. Northern’s captain Nauman Ali who took eight wickets in the first innings had to settle for three costly wickets in the second innings as he conceded 160 runs in 28 overs.

Meanwhile, Southern Punjab had Balochistan following-on at 30 for two when stumps were drawn on the third day of the four-day first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy sixth-round fixture at Quetta’s Bugti Stadium. After setting up a mammoth first innings score of 502 all-out, Southern Punjab skittled out Balochistan for 295 in 79.3 overs at the back of right-arm medium-fast Umaid Asif’s five-wicket haul in the contest.

Balochistan had resumed their innings on 37 for one and soon found themselves in a quagmire after losing two more wickets with 58 runs on board with their overnight batsmen Azeem Ghumman and Imran Butt back in the pavilion, courtesy Umaid. A 119-run partnership for the fourth-wicket between Imran Farhat and Hussain Talat followed, which denied further inroads to the pacer - at least for a while.

Balochistan’s captain Imran scored 65 from 77 balls, hitting 10 fours in his 117-minute stay at the crease before he was caught behind off Umaid’s bowling. All-rounder Hussain held the other end, setting up a 67-run partnership for the fifth-wicket with Bismallah Khan (36). During his 167-ball stay at the crease, Hussain, the only batsman in the innings to consume 100 or more deliveries in the innings, scored 89 runs, hitting 10 fours. He too was removed by Umaid, who dismissed four of the top five Balochistan batsmen. The lanky pacer returned five for 57 – his ninth five-fer in first-class cricket.

Right-arm medium-fast Mohammad Irfan jnr and leg-break Zahid Mahmood took two wickets each for 53 and 57 runs. With Balochistan 207 runs behind, Southern Punjab captain Sami Aslam enforced the follow-on. Umaid stretched his wicket-taking form into Balochistan’s second innings and sent opener Awais Zia (five) back into the pavilion with only five runs on the board. The batting side lost their second wicket after 22 runs when Irfan accounted for the wicket of Imran (five).

Azeem (11) and nightwatchman Jalat Khan (two) batted at the close of play as Balochistan trailed by 177 runs. After accumulating maximum batting points yesterday, Southern Punjab bagged three bowling points for picking nine or more wickets in 110 overs. Balochistan managed two points for passing the 250-run mark.

In Abbottabad, the third day’s play of the first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy fixture between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh had to be called-off due to rain.

SCORES IN BRIEF

CENTRAL PUNJAB: 226 all out, 69.1 overs (Ahmed Shehzad 55, Umar Akmal 52, Salman Butt 41; Nauman Ali 8-71) and 345 for 6 declared, 66.3 overs (Rizwan Hussain 110, Umar Akmal 73, Usman Salahuddin 72 not out; Nauman Ali 3-160) vs NORTHERN: 191 all out, 64.1 overs (Hammad Azam 52,Umar Amin 42; Zafar Gohar 4-54, Bilal Asif 3-57) and 121 for 5, 40 overs (Zeeshan Malik 52, Umar Amin 27; Zafar Gohar 3-46, Bilal Asif 2-38)

SOUTHERN PUNJAB: 502 all-out, 129.3 overs (Sami Aslam 168, Umar Siddique 130, Adnan Akmal 80, Abdul Rehman Muzamil 41, Sohaib Maqsood 36, Mohammad Irfan 23; Mohammad Asghar 5-130; Amad Butt 4-103) vs BALOCHISTAN: 295 all-out, overs 79.3 overs (Hussain Talat 89, Imran Farhat 65, Bismillah Khan 36, Amad Butt 32, Imran Butt 23; Umaid 5-57, Mohammad Irfan jnr 2-53, Zahid Mahmood 2-57) and after FOLLOW-ON: 30-2, 15 overs (Azeem Ghumman 11 not out; Umaid Asif 1-3, Mohammad Irfan jnr 1-11)

KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA: 288 all-out, 106 overs (Sahibzada Farhan 88, Rehan Afridi 57 not out, Sajid Khan 39, Israrullah 36, Zohaib Khan 28; Sohail Khan 4-62, Hassan Khan 2-37, Mir Hamza 2-65) vs SINDH: 147-3, 36 overs (Omair Bin Yousaf 56, Saud Shakeel 35 not out, Fawad Alam 29 not out; Junaid Khan 2-49).