LAHORE   -  Centuries by Sarmad Bhatti and Hammad Azam gave Northern a firm grip on their third round first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy fixture against Sindh at the UBL Sports Complex on Sunday.

Northern set a daunting 423-run target for Sindh, who were 77-3 before stumps were drawn. Northern’s Sarmad Bhatti turned his overnight score of 13 into a brilliant 108 as the left-handed batsman recorded his first-class career’s fourth century. The 29-year-old crunched 13 fours and tw0 sixes and, over the course of his 226-ball stay at the crease, stitched a crucial 156-run stand for the sixth wicket with all-rounder Hammad Azam, who stroked a 120-ball 100 not out. 

Playing his 100th first-class match, Hammad smashed 12 fours and three sixes on way to his career’s seventh century following which Northern declared their second innings at 311 for six. They had resumed the day at 45-3. Sindh have been dealt with the blows of Khurram Manzoor (15), Sharjeel Khan (12) and Asad Shafiq (one) in their ongoing run chase and will be pinning hopes on Saud Shakeel, unbeaten on 46. The three wickets were shared by Aamer Jamal, Nauman Ali and M Nawaz. When play resumes on Monday, both Sindh and Northern will be vying for their second win of the tournament. Sindh require 346 more runs, while Northern are seven wickets away. 

At the National Stadium, troubles compounded for defending champions Central Punjab as Balochistan were leading them by 225 runs. Balochistan, in their second innings, had managed 170-7 by the close of play with Kashif Bhatti, who scored a fighting unbeaten half-century in the first innings, and Usama Mir not out on two and one. Ali Waqas and Taimur Ali were the notable run-getters for Balochistan with 39 and 34, respectively, while all-rounder Amad Butt followed up his career-best innings figures of 6-57 with a 50-ball 26. Amad allowed Central Punjab to add only 47 runs to their overnight score of 204-6. The right-arm pacer took all of the Central Punjab’s remaining wickets and recorded his career’s fifth five-wicket haul.

Southern Punjab were 13-0 in five overs against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and needed 250 runs to secure their third win in as many matches. The Hussain Talat-led side were set a 263-run target after half-centuries from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Musadiq Ahmed and wicketkeeper-batsman Rehan Afridi helped them post 246 all out in the second innings in the match, played at the National Bank Sports Complex.

Southern Punjab could bat only 7.3 more overs after resuming the day at 257-6, thanks to off-spinner Sajid Khan, who dismissed all remaining four batsmen. They were all out for 288, which allowed KP bag four bonus bowling points after they had pocketed two for batting yesterday. 

SCORES IN BRIEFAT UBL SPORTS COMPLEX

NORTHERN 328 all out, 91 overs (M Nawaz 73, Hammad Azam 64, Umar Amin 62; Sohail Khan 4-52, Tabish Khan 3-41, Fawad Alam 2-24) AND 311-6, 88.1 overs (Sarmad Bhatti 108, Hammad Azam 100*; M Asghar 2-87) vs SINDH 217 all out, 57.3 overs (Sharjeel Khan 48; Nauman Ali 5-62, Waqas Ahmed 4-78) AND 77-3, 19 overs (Saud Shakeel 46*). 

AT NATIONAL STADIUM

BALOCHISTAN 306 all out, 102 overs (Ali Waqas 75, Taimur Ali 63; Ahmed Safi Abdullah 3-56, Waqas Maqsood 3-66, Bilawal Iqbal 3-66) AND 170-7, 62 overs (Ali Waqas 39; Waqas Maqsood 2-41, Ehsan Adil 2-45) vs CENTRAL PUNJAB 251 all out, 75 overs (Azhar Ali 63, Usman Salahuddin 44; Amad Butt 6-57, Taj Wali 2-67). 

AT NATIONAL BANK SPORTS COMPLEX

KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA 304 all out, 108.3 overs (Adil Amin 90, Kamran Ghulam 64; M Abbas 6-33, Zahid Mehmood 2-91) AND 246 all out, 72.3 overs (Musadiq Ahmed 86, Rehan Afridi 51; M Abbas 4-39, M Imran 2-8) vs SOUTHERN PUNJAB 288 all out, 79.3 overs (Hussain Talat 131, M Irfan 73; Sajid Khan 6-71, Khalid Usman 2-66) AND 13-0, 5 overs (Mukhtar Ahmed 8*).