Quaid-e-Azam Trophy final poised for thrilling last day finish

F.P. Report

KARACHI: The first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2020-21 final is set for an enthralling finish with both Central Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in with a real chance of winning the tournament and Rs10million at the end of an absorbing fourth-day of the five-day final being played here at the National Stadium.

Set a 356-run target, defending champions Central Punjab were 140 for two at stumps needing another 216 on the final day. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s bowlers, who have been so far restricted to two second innings wickets, will be in search of the remaining eight wickets when the proceedings begin on Tuesday.

Central Punjab began their chase cautiously as openers Muhammad Akhlaq and Ali Zaryab batted for 21.3 overs to accumulate 35 runs. Tournament’s leading wicket-taker Sajid Khan made the first breakthrough when he had Zaryab lbw for 10.

Akhlaq added 54 runs for the second wicket with Usman Salahuddin before he was caught by Israrullah after a juggling effort in the slips off Arshad Iqbal for 48 off 145 balls (six fours).

Usman, who has been the backbone of Central Punjab’s batting efforts throughout the tournament, posted his eighth half-century of the season and was batting on 51 (147 balls, three fours) at close of play.

Mohammad Saad is not out on 27 (63 balls, two fours). The two have so far added 51 runs for the unbroken third-wicket partnership.

Earlier, resuming at the overnight score of 243 for five, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were bowled out for 312 in 93.5 overs. Kamran Ghulam, who on day-two set a record for the most runs in a Quaid-e-Azam Trophy season, was dismissed for 108 off 208 balls (16 fours, one six) finishing the season with 1249 runs.

Sajid Khan was dismissed for eight, while captain Khalid Usman made a vital 53-run contribution lower in the order to ensure his side set Central Punjab a 350-plus target. Khalid’s 73-ball innings included seven fours. Fast bowlers Sameen Gul (5) and Arshad Iqbal (2) were dismissed in quick succession as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were bowled out for 312 (lead of 355) in 93.5 overs.

Left-armer Waqas Maqsood took four for 77, to finish the tournament with 41 wickets, Hasan Ali who took one wicket for 67, finished the season as the highest wicket-taking fast bowler with a tally of 43 wickets.