LAHORE    -   Central Punjab were 348 for five in reply to Southern Punjab’s 467 when stumps were drawn on day three of their first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match at Gaddafi Stadium.

Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad celebrated their call-up in the 20-player provisional squad against Sri Lanka by hitting impressive half-centuries.  Umar hit a blistering 89 with 10 fours and two sixes, while Ahmed, who started the day at 22, was dismissed after scoring 63 from 168 balls with eight fours.

Azhar Ali was the other batsman to get to a half-century, scoring 73 off 157 balls with 10 fours. He had started the day at 20 and together with Ahmed, put on 130 runs for the first wicket, which came to an end in the afternoon session when the former captain nicked Aamer Yamin’s wide delivery to wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal. Forty-two runs later and on the first ball after drinks, Shehzad lobbed Rahat Ali’s length delivery on his body to Sami Aslam. Rahat struck again, picking up prized wicket of Central Punjab captain Babar Azam. The other end, however, was held firmly by Umar, who batted one-down. The 29-year-old fell 11 runs short of what would have been a fascinating century when he edged Rahat (three for 34) to Adnan.

The hard-hitting batsman was quick to pounce on anything loose that slow left-arm orthodox Mohammad Irfan and leg-spinner Zahid Mahmood bowled, breathing life in the crowd perched in the Fazal Mahmood and Abdul Hafeez Kardar stands. Aamer, who had brought a threatening opening-stand to an end, struck again as the sun set on the Gaddafi Stadium by removing Kamran Akmal (33). This proved to be the final wicket of the day.

Central Punjab, trailing by 119 runs, find themselves in a pickle in the first round match, which is being live streamed on the PCB’s YouTube channel, as they managed only 348 for five in 108 overs. To equal Southern Punjab’s five batting bonus points, they are required to cross the 500-run mark in the next two overs. By the virtue of dismissing all Southern Punjab batsmen in the first innings, Central Punjab have three bonus points in the bag. If they cross the 350-run mark inside 110 overs, it would take their bonus points tally to seven.

Southern Punjab, after crossing the 400-run mark and managing five wickets, have six points thus far.