LAHORE         -           Azhar Ali and Umar Akmal centuries strengthened Central Punjab’s position against Northern in their final of the first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy at National Stadium, Karachi on Saturday.

Central Punjab hit a mammoth score of 466 for five and set an imposing 212-run first innings lead at the close of play on day two of the five-day contest. The day started with the pair of Azhar and Salman Butt–who made 74 with 14 boundaries, pushed the Northern bowlers on backfoot and denied any early inroad, as they added 38 runs in their second-wicket partnership of 95 runs.Azhar, who is Pakistan Test team captain, added 102 runs to his overnight score and completed his first-class career’s 39th century. He made 119 runs from 212 balls, out of which 14 were dispatched for boundaries. After Salman’s wicket in the first session, Azhar continued to craft solid partnerships with the middle-order batsmen. He paired with his captain Babar Azam, who cracked nine fours and a six in his 89-ball 69, for a 125-run stand for the third-wicket before adding 93 runs for the fourth-wicket with Umar Akmal, who returned unbeaten after scoring a blistering 123.

Umar spanked Northern bowlers all around the ground, smashing five sixes and 12 fours in his 115 balls. He took the leading role in the 98-run partnership for the fifth-wicket with his brother Kamran Akmal (41). This was the 29-year-old’s second century of the tournament and 17th overall in first-class cricket.