Saif Ullah Khan
Northern confirmed their place in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy final with a thrilling 39-run win over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on the fourth and final day of the 10th round game at the UBL Sports Complex in Karachi on Thursday.
Captain Nauman Ali led from the front taking four wickets for 72 runs in 28 overs while Sadaf Hussain chipped in with two wickets as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lost their way in their 245-run chase on an absorbing day of cricket.
Resuming their second innings at 39 for two, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were dealt a major blow immediately as Ashfaq Ahmed (10) fell lbw to Mohammad Waqas on the second ball of the day.
Israrullah scored a 64-ball 50 (seven fours) to keep his side in the hunt. On the other end Mehran Ibrahim (10) was dismissed by Nauman.
Israrullah’s crucial wicket was taken by Sohail Tanvir which left Khyber Pakhtunkhwa stuttering at 98 for five, they took lunch at 121 for five with Adil Amin batting on 19 and Sajid Khan batting on nine.
Northern consolidated their position with three quick strikes after lunch as Sajid fell without adding to his lunch score while Adil (31) and Rehan Afridi (0) left soon after. Zohaib Khan (51 not out off 122 balls, four fours and one six) added 39 runs for the ninth wicket with Usman Shinwari (17 off 73 balls, three fours).
Usman was sent packing by Sadaf in the final session of the match, while Northern wrapped up their win when Faizan Riaz accounted for Junaid Khan (0) who did not contribute a single-run in the 28-run last wicket stand with Zohaib, to spark celebrations in the elated Northern camp.
Northern collected full 24 points on offer in the game (16 points for their win, five batting and three bowling points). They finished with 130 points to occupy the second spot on the six-team table behind Central Punjab who finished with 133 points after collecting 13 points in their last group match against Southern Punjab that ended in a draw.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa finished at the third spot with 124 points, while Southern Punjab collected 112 points to finish at the fourth spot. Sindh and Balochistan grabbed 90 and 84 points to end the tournament on fifth and sixth position, respectively.
Central Punjab and Northern will now contest the tournament final at the National Stadium Karachi from 27 to 31 December.
With 120 points in the bag before the tenth round of the Quaid-e-Azam trophy, Central Punjab followed a perfect script to settle for a draw in their last round fixture, of the premier four-day first class tournament, against Southern Punjab.
On the fourth and final day at the State Bank Stadium on Thursday, Central Punjab's openers Salman Butt and Kamran Akmal topped up the overnight one-run lead with a 124-run stand. Kamran Akmal perished on a 72-ball 47 while Salman Butt marched to his 25th first-class ton.
Captain Ahmed Shehzad tuned up for the final by crafting a hundred in the second innings as well.
At the close of play, Central Punjab were 309 for one after 81 overs with Salman Butt (158) and Ahmed Shehzad (100) at the crease. Butt and Shehzad piled up 185 runs together to ensure the desired result.
With the draw, Central Punjab accumulated enough points to qualify for the final of Quaid-e-Azam trophy to face Northern .
Central Punjab collected 13 points (five batting, three bowling points and five points for a draw) from the match and topped the six-teams table with 133 points.
Sindh’s Fawad Alam scored his fourth century of the season and Balochistan’s Imran Butt also continued his run of form with another ton on the final day of four-day tenth-round of first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match at the National Stadium on Thursday.
Balochistan had reached 181 for one in 26.2 overs in their second innings when the match ended in a draw.
Butt who was out cheaply in the first innings made amends with a fine 101 not out from 99 balls with 15 fours. This allowed him to finish as the top run-getter in the tournament’s round matches with 934 runs, a tally that included four centuries.
Balochistan’s captain, Imran Farhat was also undefeated on 40 from 26 balls when the match ended.
Fawad's 34th century of his first-class career was the highlight of a day where Sindh responded with 515 in 170.1 overs in reply to Balochistan’s first innings total of 471 for nine.
The left-hander faced 233 balls and hit 12 fours and a six in his innings of 116 runs after he resumed on the overnight score of 69.
Fawad who has scored over 12,000 runs in first class cricket also shared a productive seventh wicket partnership of 47 with Anwar Ali who made 58 runs.
All-rounder, Anwar who has been in good form since returning from an injury to first class cricket this season stroked nine fours in his 117 balls innings.
Sindh lost their overnight batsman, Hasan Mohsin for 23 to Khurram Shehzad after which Fawad and Anwar stood firm.
After Fawad was caught by Bismillah Khan off Taj Wali, Anwar produced a ninth wicket stand of 52 runs with Mir Hamza (14).
Taj Wali and Jalat Khan finished with three wickets apiece.
Balochistan finished at the bottom of the six-team table at the completion of the 10 rounds while Sindh were placed fifth going winless in the tournament.