Shafiq bounces back
Asad Shafiq reacted to his omission from the Pakistan Test side with a glorious century for Sindh, as they fought out a competitive draw over four days against Southern Punjab. Shafiq – captaining Sindh in the absence of Sarfaraz Ahmed – and Omair Yousuf struck a 228-run partnership among them, scoring 141 and 153 respectively as Sindh amassed 383 in the first innings. In-form Southern Punjab legspinner Zahid Mahmood was once again among the wickets, taking four in the innings.
Southern Punjab responded with 295, before a flamboyant run-a-ball hundred by Sharjeel Khan put Sindh in the driver’s seat as they pushed for a win. Declaring after setting South Punjab a target of 342, they gave themselves just under a day to attempt to bowl them out. It wasn’t to be, with Saif Badar’s unbeaten 70 holding the line for his side, and the two sides shook hands with Sindh still a distant six wickets from victory.
Nine runs, two wickets and a thrilling draw
The contest took place between Balochistan and Northern, two sides who demonstrated what an exciting domestic competition this can be when two sides engage in attacking cricket, trying to win, rather than simply not to lose. Balochistan were in charge for most of it, taking a 143-run lead over the first two innings, But with time running out, they came out in the second and put up a brisk 250, declaring having set Northern 394 for victory.
Try telling Northern, whose brand – as they demonstrated in their unlikely run to the final last year – consists of defying the odds, that. They were in no mood to shake hands on a draw, with Umar Amin‘s 123 at the top making their intentions plain. Mohammad Nawaz struck 95, with Hammad Azam striking a half-century as Northern began to come close.
Balochistan were getting close too, with periodic wickets, and at tea on the final day, the match was deliciously poised. Balochistan needed six wickets, Northern a 109 runs. Each went at it until the light finally had the final say. It would end a draw with Balochistan a mere two wickets from victory. Northern, at 385 for eight, needed just nine more runs.
KP’s three-day win
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa went to the top of the table with their second win in four, after a five-wicket win over Central Punjab, who are currently at the opposite end of the table. It was set up by the bowlers after offspinner Sajid Khan and Imran Khan took seven wickets between them that bowled out CP for 158.
KP were, at one stage, struggling themselves having been reduced to 98 for six, before an unbeaten 92 by Khalid Usman helped them to a useful 78-run lead.
CP would put up a better fight in the second innings, putting together 248, but Sajid would make it a ten-for with six wickets this time around, ripping through the top order on a surface that was taking significant spin. It set up a potentially tricky 171-run target, and while CP continued to break partnerships regularly, they simply didn’t have enough runs to play with. A half-century from Adil Amin was enough to break the back of the target, and in the end, the chase proved somewhat comfortable.