KARACHI: The eighth round of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2021-22 season will begin here at various venues from Monday (today).
Leaders Sindh will face the fifth-placed side of Northern at the UBL Sports Complex. The second-placed Southern Punjab meet third-placed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at the SBP Sports Complex while sixth-placed Balochistan meet fourth-placed Central Punjab at NBP Sports Complex.
Sindh have had a dramatic change in fortunes, recording back-to-back wins since the 2021-22 edition of the prestigious tournament moved to Karachi following the first five rounds in Punjab.
After a single result in the first 15 matches played in Punjab, the tournament sprang to life with results in as many as five out of the six matches played in the city so far.
The trend is expected to continue.
Sindh are on a high after registering a fine comeback victory over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at the State Bank Stadium courtesy a six-wicket haul by left-arm pacer Mir Hamza in KP’s second innings on Friday.
Hamza (second-most wickets in the tournament – 23) and the Sindh battery of pacers (Sohail Khan, Mohammad Hasnain and Shahnawaz Dahani) were the architects of the 127-run win.
They will, however, be up against a rampant Northern side that handed a nine-wicket drubbing to Central Punjab at the National Bank of Pakistan Sports Complex courtesy a maiden double century by Haider Ali and first-class career-best bowling performance by Haris Rauf.
Haider and Haris, as well as Shahnawaz, are not going to feature in the match as they are set to join the Pakistan squad for the white-ball series against West Indies.
The win over Central Punjab earned Northern valuable points but they are still languishing on the fifth-spot in the table with 78 points.
Southern Punjab tie against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at the State Bank Stadium.
Southern Punjab arrived in Karachi at the top of the table but have since lost the top spot to Sindh. After enduring a comprehensive defeat to Central Punjab in the sixth-round, Southern Punjab played out a draw against Balochistan in the seventh round. The high scoring fixture at the UBL Sports Complex ensured that Southern Punjab did not slip further.
They at present enjoy a five points lead over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who after beating Northern in the sixth round lost to Sindh.
KP’s Sahibzada Farhan (688 runs) and Southern Punjab’ Tayyab Tahir (644 runs), the top two run-getters in the season, will be hoping to play a leading role for their respective sides in their quest for points.
Fourth in the table, Central Punjab will be eying valuable bonus points and a win over the sixth-placed Balochistan when the two sides clash.
Both 2021-22 season matches at the venue have produced results with Central Punjab on the receiving end against Northern in the seventh-round match last week.
Central Punjab, the reigning joint champions, are currently 20 points behind Sindh and need at least a draw with some bonus points in their kitty to retain a realistic chance of sealing a berth in the final.
Balochistan with 64 points are still not totally out of the run for a final spot. The team received a boost with the inclusion of Shan Masood in their ranks in the round seven. The left-hander responded with a blazing century as his side amassed a 606-run total with Ayaz Tasawar and captain Bismillah Khan also scoring centuries.
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