Sindh on top against Northern, Balochistan in deep trouble

KARACHI: Sindh looked good to take the first innings lead in their first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match against Northern at the KRL Stadium on Monday.After dismissing Northern for 271 in 102.3 overs in the first innings, Sindh were only 14 runs behind after reaching 257 for four in 82 overs at close on the penultimate day of the match. With a lot of time lost on the opening two days due to rain, an outright result seems highly unlikely. However, both teams will be gunning for batting and bowling points when play resumes on Tuesday (today).Asad Shafiq was at the crease on 77 and giving his captain company at the other end was Saud Shakeel on 10. A 69-Test veteran, Asad hit 10 boundaries off 143 balls in 184 minutes. He shared a third-wicket stand of 109 runs with the left-handed Saad Ali, who hit nine fours in his 101-ball 63.Khurram Manzoor continued his fine form. The right-handed opener got out just after completing his 49th first-class half-century. His 54 was laced with five fours. For Northern,Sohail Tanvir, Haris Rauf, Hammad Azam and Nauman Ali shared four wickets.Earlier, Sindh took just five balls to wrap up Northern’s first innings. Right-arm pacer Tabish Khan had Nauman Ali (21) lbw as Umar Amin’s side was bundled out on their overnight total.Tabish finished with figures of three for 70. Left-arm spinner Kashif Bhatti also took three wickets for 51 runs while Sohail Khan claimed two scalps for 60 runs. Rohail Nazir (67) and Hammad Azam (58) were the main run-getters for Northern.Meanwhile, problems for Balochistan compounded against Central Punjab at Quetta’s Bugti Stadium as the hosts were 141 for five after being forced to follow-on.Balochistan, resuming their innings at the overnight score of 119 for five, were skittled out for 270 in the first innings. The sixth-wicket stand between Hussain Talat and Bismillah Khan put 45 runs more on the board on Monday. Hussain scored 37 runs from 148 balls, hitting five fours. With a 143-ball 71, Bismillah was the highest run-scorer in the innings for Balochistan. He hit nine fours and a six while spending 223 minutes at the crease.Nasim Shah and Waqas Maqsood added a wicket each to their tallies, returning 3-43 and 2-50. Bilal Asif and Zafar Gohar picked up a wicket each. By removing Balochistan’s all 10 wickets inside 110 overs, Central Punjab secured three bowling points. With Balochistan 251 runs behind, Central Punjab’s captain Azhar Ali enforced follow-on for the second time on the trot in the tournament.The hosts, in their second innings, were off to a decent start, putting up a 56-run partnership for the first wicket. Zafar, who scored his maiden first-class century on Sunday, picked up three wickets in quick succession and reduced Balochistan to 78 for four. Nine runs later, the hosts lost another wicket. Abu Bakar (33) and Bismillah (37) pushed the visitors back with an unbeaten 54-run stand for the sixth wicket.With Balochistan still trailing by 110 runs, the two will have to toil hard to deny Central Punjab their second consecutive win by an innings’ margin when play resumes on Tuesday.Rain continued to pour in Abbottabad as only 38 overs were possible on day three of the fixture between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Southern Punjab. The play started in the afternoon and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were 295 for four at stumps, adding 119 runs, at the loss of three wickets, to their total on Monday.Resuming his innings at seven, Ashfaq Ahmed scored an unbeaten 61 from 113 balls, which was studded with five fours and two sixes. He was supported by Zohaib Khan from the other end. The all-rounder was not out on 20 when the stumps were drawn. The pair added 51 runs for the fifth wicket. For Southern Punjab, Mohammad Abbas was the pick of the bowlers with 2 for 53 in 21 overs.

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