Tuesday June 25, 2024

Irfanullah puts Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in driving seat

By Alam Zeb Safi
January 03, 2021

KARACHI: Tall pacer Irfanullah Shah bowled superbly to put Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the driving seat against defending champions Central Punjab on the second day of their five-day final of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy (first-class) here at National Stadium on Saturday.

Bannu-born Irfan took 4-45 in 16.1 overs to enable KP to reduce Central Punjab to 212-8 in response to KP’s first innings total of 300 all out. Central Punjab trail by 88 runs.

Qasim Akram was batting on 35 for which he faced 74 balls, smacking four boundaries. At the other end was Ahmad Safi Abdullah, who is yet to open his account.

On another tough day for batsmen, Central Punjab had a shaky start when Irfan got rid of both the openers Mohammad Akhlaq (4) and Ali Zaryab (8). However, Usman Salahuddin (60) and Mohammad Saad (26) laboured hard and shared 64 runs for the third wicket to bring some stability to the innings.

Off-spinner Mohammad Sajid provided the breakthrough to KP when he had Mohammad Saad, the only wicket to fall in the second session. The ball after pitching on middle and leg spun a lot, Saad chased it but only thin-edged with the stumper Rehan Afridi holding a fine catch while moving towards his left. Saad hit three fours from 79 deliveries.

At tea, Central Punjab were 93-3. Hafiz Saad Nasim, who has had a solid season with the bat, then joined Usman. And the duo added 48 for the fourth wicket before skipper Khalid Usman took the prized scalp of Usman Salahuddin. Left-arm spinner Khalid tossed the ball up, it spun away from the right-handed Usman, he went for a cut but only edged it to keeper Rehan. Usman, who reached his seventh fifty of the season off the 120th ball, smashed nine fours from 130 deliveries. This was the 25th fifty from Usman in his 128th first-class outing. Qasim joined Saad Nasim and both shared 61 for the fifth wicket before Arshad Iqbal bowled the latter with a splendid in-swinger. Saad Nasim hit excellent 55 off 109 balls. He struck four fours and three magnificent sixes in his 109-ball knock. This was his fifth fifty of the season and 31st in first class cricket.

When Saad fell Central Punjab were 185-5. The drama happened in the final moments of the day’s play. Irfan got rid of wicket-keeper batsman Ali Shan (9) and Khalid Usman had Bilawal Iqbal (1) before Irfan took the wicket of Hasan Ali (1) to leave Central Punjab gasping. The umpires removed the bails due to bad light after the first ball of the 76th over of the innings was bowled.

Irfan was ably backed by Khalid Usman with 2-29 in 13 overs. Sajid and Arshad got one wicket each.

Earlier, KP resumed their first innings at 285-7 and lost their final three wickets for just 15 runs.

Zohaib Khan (30) was the first to go when he edged Hasan Ali to Ali Shan behind the stumps.

Waqas Maqsood then had Sameen Gul (9) caught by Ali behind the stumps — his fifth catch in the innings. Hasan then sent back the last man Arshad (2) to wrap up KP innings in 97.5 overs.

Hasan, who bowled with hostile pace in the morning, got 4-62 in 23.5 overs. Left-armer Waqas Maqsood captured 3-59 in 21 overs.

Asif Yaqoob and Rashid Riaz are supervising the match. Ahsan Raza is the third umpire, Shozab Raza the reserve umpire and Ali Naqvi the match referee.