Saif Ullah Khan
Defending champions Central Punjab will play Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the final of the first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2020-21 as they sealed a commanding 10-wicket win over Southern Punjab at the State Bank Stadium, Karachi.
The final, a five-day affair, will be played at the National Stadium from 1-5 January.
Set 63 runs to win, Central Punjab strolled to the target in 10 overs during the afternoon session of the last day of the 10th round with Muhammad Akhlaq and Mohammad Saad unbeaten on 38 off 42 and 25 off 18, respectively.
Central Punjab was deemed out of the race for the final in the first half of the double-league group stage when they sat at the bottom of points table with just 30 points – coming from three defeats and two draws.
They, however, staged a remarkable comeback by winning four of their remaining five matches to finish second with 137 points – 26 of them were bagged in this contest.
Southern Punjab, who slipped one position to finish third, started the day with a thin eight-run lead that they stretched to 62 on the back of Saif Badar’s 52 (four fours and a six).
Saif resumed the fourth and final day on 17 and had the company of Mohammad Ilyas, who failed to add a run to his overnight score before he was dismissed on four.
Ahmed Safi Abdullah finished with four wickets, all of which were taken yesterday, for 108, while his captain Hasan Ali returned three of 91.
In a marked improvement from the last year – when they finished at the bottom of the table – Balochistan finished their Quaid-e-Azam Trophy campaign on the fourth spot following a nine-wicket victory over Sindh at the UBL Sports Complex.
The Imran Farhat-led side chased down the 98-run target with nine wickets spare as opener Ali Rafiq made 55 not out (eight fours). His 77-ball knock included a 63-run alliance for the first wicket with his captain.
This was Balochistan’s third win in the season, which pocketed them 26 points, while Sindh, who finished at the bottom, gained only two points.
Sindh were bowled out for 317 after resuming the day on 208 for three. Khurram Manzoor fell six runs short of recording his 29th first-class century as he could add only 12 runs to his overnight score.
Sindh captain Asad Shafiq scored his second half-century of the match as he scored 56 before he was caught and bowled by Kashif Bhatti, who took four wickets for 70 runs. This was the second four-fer of the match for the left-arm orthodox.
The other Balochistan bowler to take four wickets in the innings was Jalat Khan, who returned four for 91.
At the National Stadium, table-toppers Khyber Pakhtunkhwa played out a draw against last year’s runner-up Northern as the latter dropped two places to finish fifth.
Half-centuries by Adil Amin (77) and Kamran Ghulam (51) helped Khyber Pakhtunkhwa post 252 for eight in the second innings and set Northern a 438-run target.
The pick of the bowlers in the innings was all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz, who recorded his second five-wicket haul as he returned five for 69.
Northern were 108 for five in 37 overs when the captains shook hands. Nasir Nawaz scored 46 off 51 (three fours and two sixes). Spinners Khalid Usman (three for 26) and Sajid Khan (two for 25) shared all the fallen wickets between them.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa enjoyed an extraordinary run and finished the group stage at the top of the points table with 161 points – 24 more than the next best Central Punjab. They gained 13 points from this match.
Northern managed nine points.
Scores in brief:
At State Bank Stadium, Central Punjab beat Southern Punjab by 10 wickets
Central Punjab 493-7 dec, 117.4 overs (Usman Salahuddin 219 not out, Ali Zaryab 78, Saad Nasim 72, Qasim Akram 65; Zahid Mahmood 4-152) and 63-0, 10 overs (Muhammad Akhlaq 38 not out, Mohammad Saad 25 not out)
Southern Punjab 187 all out, 67.4 overs (Umar Siddiq 51, Salman Ali Agha 45, Aamer Yamin 23; Bilawal Iqbal 3-27, Hasan Ali 3-40) and 368 all out, 100.4 overs (Zain Abbas 118, Salman Ali Agha 79, Saif Badar 52, Umar Siddiq 32, Imran Rafiq 30; Ahmed Safi Abdullah 4-108, Hasan Ali 3-91)
Match points: Central Punjab 26 (16 outright win, four batting, six bowling), Southern Punjab 1 (bowling)
At UBL Sports Complex, Balochistan beat Sindh by nine wickets
Balochistan 414 all out, 126 overs (Akbar-ur-Rehman 164, Ayaz Tasawar 72, Imran Farhat 42, Bismillah Khan 42, Umaid Asif 25, Jalat Khan 22; Mohammad Asghar 5-101, Shahnawaz Dhani 2-77, Tabish Khan 2-80) and 100-1, 26.2 overs (Ali Rafiq 55 not out, Imran Farhat 31)
Sindh 195 all out, 66 overs (Asad Shafiq 87 not out, Azam Khan 38, Mohammad Hasan 27; Kashif Bhatti 4-56, Umaid Asif 3-39, Taj Wali 2-34) and 317 all out, 115.5 overs (Khurram Manzoor 94, Saud Shakeel 90, Asad Shafiq 56, Saad Ali 25; Kashif Bhatti 4-70, Jalat Khan 4-91)
Match points: Balochistan 26 (16 outright win, four batting, six bowling), Sindh 2 (all bowling)
At National Stadium, match drawn between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Northern
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 521 all out, 130.2 overs (Israrullah 127, Rehan Afridi 127, Kamran Ghulam 107, Zohaib Khan 69, Sahibzada Farhan 62; Ali Sarfraz 4-15, Mubasir Khan 2-108) and 252-8 dec, 68.4 overs (Adil Amin 77, Kamran Ghulam 51, Sahibzada Farhan 38, Israrullah 35; Mohammad Nawaz 5-69)
Northern 336 all out, 107.5 overs (Nasir Nawaz 65, Mubasir Khan 59, Faizan Riaz 42, Mohammad Nawaz 38, Hammad Azam 37, Umar Amin 31; Sajid Khan 4-114, Khalid Usman 3-89) and 108-5, 37 overs (Nasir Nawaz 46, Mohammad Nawaz 28; Khalid Usman 3-26, Sajid Khan 2-25)
Match points: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 13 (five draw, five batting, three bowling), Northern 9 (five draw, three batting, 1 bowling)