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November 19, 2019

Asghar pegs KP back with five-wicket haul


November 19, 2019

LAHORE: Balochistan’s Mohammad Asghar recorded his second five-wicket haul of the tournament on the first day of his side’s four-day first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at UBL Sports Complex in Karachi.

The 20-year-old left-arm spinner removed four of the opposition’s top five batsmen and returned five for 90 in 30 overs as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa managed 290 runs for the loss of eight wickets before bails were drawn six overs before the schedule because of fading light.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Ashfaq Ahmed, the second highest run-getter in the tournament, and Zohaib Khan scored 54 and 76 not out, respectively.

An 86-run partnership for the second wicket between Israrullah and Ashfaq gave Khyber Pakhtunkhwa control of the proceedings after Sahibzada Farhan (nine) was removed by pacer Khurram Shehzad with only 16 runs on board.

But Asghar changed the course of the innings in the afternoon session as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa slipped to 206 for six from 106 for two.

Zohaib crafted a solid half-century to rescue his side from a collapse. The all-rounder was not out on 76 runs which he scored off 137 balls. He has hit eight fours. Usman Shinwari was not out on 20 when the play came to an end.

Asghar, after returning his eighth first-class five-fer, now sits at the third spot on the list of top wicket takers. He has 24 scalps, averaging 30.04.

Balochistan will be eyeing Zohaib’s wicket when the second day’s play commences as getting Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s nine or more wickets inside 110 overs will fetch them maximum bowling points (3).

In another match, Usman Salahuddin and Kamran Akmal produced fighting half centuries to lift Central Punjab to 216 for seven against Sindh at the National Stadium in Karachi.

Kamran reached his 13,000 runs in first-class cricket during a punchy innings of 59 from 70 balls and Usman stood firm with 50 from 130 balls at stumps.

The umpires called off play due to bad light with seven overs remaining in the day. Kamran and Usman came together with their team struggling on 89 for four and forged a partnership of 92 runs to ensure Central Punjab were not bowled out on the first day after electing to bat first.

Central Punjab decided to field spinners Zafar Gohar and Bilal Asif while Sindh went in with four pacers and a lone spinner in southpaw teenager, Amir Ali.

Sindh pacers were on song most of the time as Sohail Khan struck early on, trapping Salman Butt leg before for one to rock the visitors but Ahmed Shehzad (48 from 127 balls with seven fours) and Muhammad Saad (31 from 93 balls) ensured no more wickets fell till lunch.

It was in the post lunch session that Sindh struck three blows. Umar Akmal fell to Tabish Khan for eight, while Anwar Ali who bowled economically throughout the day had Ahmed caught at point.

Kamran strode to the crease and produced some spanking shots, hitting ten fours before he edged a wide ball from Tabish to Sarfraz shortly after tea.

Zafar Gohar also went caught behind off Anwar Ali as Sarfraz took a fine diving low catch to his left side. Sindh also snared Bilal Asif for one with Khurram Manzoor taking a smart catch at first slip but Ehsan Adil (9 from 16 balls) proved an able ally to Usman as the two batted till stumps.

Meanwhile, after claiming their maiden victory of the season, Northern carried forward their impressive batting form on day one of their fixture against Southern Punjab at Rawalpindi’s KRL Stadium.

In the eighth-round match, the hosts were 339 for five in 78 overs when bails were drawn. Openers Umar Amin (90) and Zeeshan Malik (45) provided a solid foundation after Northern captain Nauman Ali elected to bat.

Northern were 121 for one by lunch with Umar having crossed the 50-run mark. Zeeshan was dismissed by left-arm medium-fast bowler Zia-ul-Haq. Southern Punjab tightened screws in the afternoon session and had Umar, who spanked 10 fours and four sixes in his 113-ball stay at the crease, back in the pavilion.

Ali Sarfraz, however, helped Northern march to 245 for three at tea with a solid half-century. The 31-year-old left-handed batsman scored 73 runs from 130 balls, seven of which were sent to the boundary.

Batting at six, Hammad Azam was unbeaten on 48 when the play ended. The all-rounder faced 65 balls, and hit four fours and a six. Wicket-keeper-batsman Jamal Anwar was at the other end, having scored 18.

For Southern Punjab, left-arm spinner Mohammad Irfan was the pick of bowlers with three for 95. Zia and leg-spinner Zahid Mehmood claimed a wicket each.

Northern, ranked fourth on the points table, will look to strengthen their position by bagging maximum batting points (5) by reaching the 400-run mark inside the 110-over cut-off. If Southern Punjab take four or more wickets in the next 32 overs, they will bag all three bowling points on offer.