Central Punjab consolidate top position in rain-interrupted third round
The Azhar Ali-led Central Punjab have made massive strides to strengthen their top position at the conclusion of the third round of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy with the other two games in Rawalpindi and Abbottabad being subject to intermittent showers.
Central Punjab achieved their second win in the tournament in the game against Balochistan while none of the remaining five participants have registered a single win yet.
Central Punjab vs Balochistan
Central Punjab rode on the back of a stunning double century from Salman Butt and all-round heroics from Zafar Gohar to secure their second consecutive win by an innings margin.
Balochistan's Bismillah Khan offered some resistance with the bat, striking half-centuries in both innings but they were eventually defeated by an innings and 12 runs on the last day of the third-round match.
Bilal Asif added four wickets to his tally in the second innings to become the joint-highest wicket-taker in the season thus far alongside teammate Gohar and Balochistan's Yasir Shah with 13 scalps each.
Quetta's Bugti Stadium was set ablaze by a batting masterclass from former Pakistan skipper Butt in Central Punjab's first innings.
He became the third double centurion in the tournament with 237 from 376 deliveries to help his side post a mammoth total of 521-6 declared.
Butt was involved in a 237-run opening partnership with captain Azhar, who accumulated 123 runs.
An enterprising knock from Gohar down the order allowed him to make his maiden first-class ton and he backed it up with four wickets in the match.
Central Punjab have gained 24 points – 16 for an outright win and five and three bonus points for scoring more than 400 runs and bundling out the opposition in 110 overs in the first and second innings of the match.
Balochistan are now placed second-last on the table having picked up just three points - two of them for crossing the 250-run mark in their first innings.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa vs Southern Punjab
The four-day match between the two sides saw a total of only 86 overs being bowled throughout its entirety.
Half-centuries from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's top-three batsmen ensured they were in a solid position at 295-4 but a waterlogged outfield prevented them from building on the strong foundation.
Skipper Sahibzada Farhan and Israrullah were involved in an emphatic 167-run stand for the first wicket while Ashfaq Ahmed continued his prolific form in the season and remained unbeaten at 61.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Southern Punjab are ranked third and fourth respectively in the points table.
Sindh vs Northern
Sindh looked all set to surpass Northern's first-innings score but heavy rain meant they finished the match at 257-4 in reply to the hosts' 271 all out.
Sindh captain Asad Shafiq top-scored with a 143-ball 77 not out while opening batsman Khurram Manzoor and Saad Ali slammed fifties.
Earlier in the match, Rohail Nazir and Hammad Azam lifted Northern to a relatively respectable total after a middle-order collapse threatened to end their innings quickly.
Hammad contributed with a patient 117-ball 58 with Rohail hitting 12 boundaries during his score of 67.
Sindh paceman Tabish Khan claimed three wickets for 70 runs and in the process reached the career milestone of 550 first-class wickets.
The much-hyped pace sensation Haris Rauf accounted for the prized scalp of Fawad Alam in his debut red-ball game.
Meanwhile, Northern still languish at the bottom of the table as Sindh are slotted second.