A customary crisis hundred by Fawad Alam was not enough to save Sindh from their 2nd defeat of the season, taking them to the bottom of the table. Northern’s 1st win, helped them leapfrogged Balochistan and go 6th in the table. The other two matches partly effected by weather ended in tame draws.
In Lahore, Central Punjab faced off against Balochistan. Imran Butt, who has been impressive throughout this campaign was able to assert himself again, scoring 135. Azeem Ghumman and Imran Farhat contributed 72 and 87 respectively, and the batting side finished on 450. The evergreen Aizaz Cheema picked up five wickets for CP. In response, the league leaders found themselves at 84/4. However, Umer Akmal (78) and Usman Salahuddin (94) counter-attacked. There was only time for 93 overs to be bowled in the CP innings as they finished the match on 324/9. Mohammad Asghar was the pick of the bowlers for Balochistan with three wickets.
In Abbottabad, Southern Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa played out another high scoring draw. Batting 1st SP posted 338 with major contributions coming from Umer Siddiq (88) and Sohaib Maqsood (57). Ahmed Jamal picked up six wickets for KP. In response, KP motored along to 417 thanks to the elegant 143 from Ashfaq Ahmed and fifties from Zohaib Khan and Rehan Afridi. Umaid Asif following up last match’s impressive performance with another threefer. There was still time for Sami Aslam to make yet 150, alongside Zeeshan Ashraf who missed out on a hundred after being dismissed by Fakhar Zaman for 94. Irfanullah Shah bagged three wickets in the 2nd innings.
Sindh dropped to the foot of the table after failing to nail down the opposition despite a few opportunities. On the 1st morning, Northern were 15/3 yet they finished on 408. Despite picking eight wickets between them, Mir Hamza, Sohail Khan and Tabish Khan all went for over 4.8 runs per over. Sarfaraz’s lack of faith Hassan Khan showed with the young left-arm spinner bowling fewer overs than Mir Hamza, despite picking up two wickets and going under three RPO. Faizan Rizwan’s bludgeoned 211 in 200 balls, while Ali Sarfaraz and Hammad Azam scored fifties. With the bat, Sindh were under pressure again before Fawad Alam scored a customary hundred, taking the team to relative safety with Anwar Ali who scored 69. Northern’s captain and league’s top wicket-taker Nauman Ali collected another five-wicket haul.
In the 2nd innings, once again the Sindh bowlers failed to assert much control as Northern rushed to 262 runs in 53 overs. Zeeshan Malik top-scored with 96, Mir Hamza getting two wickets. Sindh’s batsmen fell inside 56 overs. Northern bowlers found some swing and spin, with all bowlers chipping in with at least a wicket. However, once again Nauman Ali bagged four. Sohail Khan’s hyper-aggressive 54 were in vain as Sindh slumped to 2nd loss of the season.
CP holds a comfortable lead of 26 points over second-place SP. However both KP and Northern will feel they are in touching distance with SP, with a difference of 11 points between the three teams.