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Late strikes give Northern hope of reaching the final of QeA Trophy 2019/20

The third day of Quaid-e-Azam Trophy round ten assured Central Punjab of a place in the final of the tournament where they will be up against either Northern or Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who are battling for the second spot at UBL Sports Complex, Karachi.


Central Punjab vs Southern Punjab:

Central Punjab secured three valuable bowling points by squeezing Southern Punjab to 392 before the culmination of the third day's play at the State Bank Stadium, Karachi.

Central Punjab, opted not to follow-on the opposition and were one run into the second innings before stumps were drawn to close out the day having stacked an overall lead of 206 runs. 

Central Punjab were on top of the table, with 120 points, prior to the final round of the four-day first class Quaid-e-Azam trophy and now certain to feature in the final encounter of country's premier first class tournament.

Central Punjab started off the third day of the last round Quaid-e-Azam trophy encounter against Southern Punjab by making early inroads courtesy Bilal Asif who dismissed overnight batsmen Umar Siddiq (27) and Abdul Rehman Muzammil (0) with 69 runs on the board.

Zeeshan Ashraf held one end to knit small partnerships with Sohaib Maqsood and Adnan Akmal to escort Southern Punjab beyond the 150-run mark. Sohaib Maqsood was snapped by Ehsan Adil on 29, followed by an early departure of captain Adnan Akmal (14) to further dent the Southern's campaign.

Zeeshan Ashraf completed his fighting century as Southern Punjab reached 254 for five at the tea interval with Zeeshan on 126 and the other eventual century maker Agha Salman on 39.

The Central Punjab bowlers came hard on the opposition, in the final session of the day, to first send back the centurion Zeeshan Ashraf, followed by the scalps of Zulfiqar Babar and Zia-ul-Haq without an addition to the score.

Zeeshan Ashraf stroked 212-ball 141, studded with 15 fours and three sixes, to form a 113-run partnership with Salman Ali Agha, who later went on to hammer a quick ton, before getting picked up by Bilal Asif on 140 off 166 balls, with 18 fours and three maximums. Southern Punjab were bowled out at 392.

Bilal Asif, for Central Punjab, took his fifth five-wicket haul in first-class cricket while Ehsan Adil and Zafar Gohar chipped in with three and two wickets respectively.

Central Punjab opted not to follow-on and decided to bat again to score a run without loss at the close of the day's play. Central Punjab, which scored 597 runs in the first innings, have now an overall lead of 206 runs.

Northern vs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa:

Two quick Khyber Pakhtunkhwa wickets, minutes before the close of play gave Northern the upper hand on an action-packed day-three of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy first-class 10th round game being played at the UBL Sports Complex in Karachi.

Northern who need an outright win to book their place in the 27-31 December tournament final declared their second innings at 139 for six, setting Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (needing a draw to qualify for the final) an enthralling 245-run chase.

Northern then made full use of the nine overs they bowled at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa before close by taking the prized scalps of captain Fakhar Zaman (7) and his fellow opener Sahibzada Farhan (9).

On Wednesday, resuming their first innings at the overnight score of 156 for six, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were bailed out of trouble and the prospects of a follow-on by a 110-run seventh wicket partnership between Mehran Ibrahim and Rehan Afridi. Mehran (54 off 98 balls, nine fours) fell on the stroke of lunch becoming the sixth victim of pacer Mohammad Waqas. 

Rehan remained unbeaten on 95 off 147 balls, his innings included 11 fours and one six. He found valuable support from Usman Shinwari as well (14 off 22 balls, two fours). Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were then bowled out for 306 handing a 105-run lead to Northern.

Waqas finished with figures of six for 109, Northern captain Nauman Ali took two wickets for 56 runs.

In search of quick runs in the second innings, Northern lost wickets at regular intervals. Opener Zeeshan Malik scored his second fifty of the match to lead the run-charge. Zeeshan’s 44-ball 52 included two fours and two sixes besides some quick running as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa spread the field in a bid to thwart the scoring rate. 

Northern declared the innings timely before reaping the rewards of the decision by removing Fakhar and Farhan before the close of the play to set up a final day charge.

Sindh vs Balochistan:

Khurram Manzoor and Saud Shakeel hit centuries as Sindh hit back hard at Balochistan on day three of the four-day tenth round first class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match at the National Stadium, Karachi.

Responding to Balochistan’s first innings total of 471 for nine declared, Sindh had reached 356 for five in 115 overs at stumps.

Fawad Alam continuing his rich vein of form remained unbeaten at close with 69 runs with Hasan Mohsin (7) the other not out batsman.

Alam’s innings came after Khurram and Saud had frustrated Balochistan bowlers with a big second-wicket partnership of 213 runs which ended after lunch.

Manzoor scored his first hundred of the season making 109 from 208 balls with 15 fours while Shakeel carried on to make a big score of 151 from 275 balls with 16 fours.

Jalat Khan broke their partnership when he had Khurram caught by Taj Wali at the total of 220 and two runs later, he also snared the prized wicket of Saad Ali who fell for a duck caught by keeper Bismillah Khan. 

Saud and Fawad then teamed up for another century partnership before left arm pacer, Taj Wali finally removed the centurion who reached his 150 from 263 balls while Amad Butt bowled captain, Sarfaraz Ahmed for 15 runs.

Till the third day a total of five centuries have been scored in the match as from Balochistan, their captain, Imran Farhat (137), Akbar-ur-Rehman (122) and Amad Butt (106) were the centurions.

Khurram and Saud completed the 200 runs of their partnership from 366 balls and 264 minutes.

The result of the match does not have any implications on the final as both Sindh and Balochistan are out of the race for a place in the final.

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