KARACHI: Zahid Mahmood reminded the national selectors of his capability as a match-winner by spinning Southern Punjab to an emphatic innings and 96-run drubbing of Norther, the runners-up of last season’s Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, here on Tuesday.
The scheduled four-day fixture at the NBP Sports Complex concluded at 2:49pm — 11 minutes prior to the tea interval — on the third day when Northern were bowled out for 246 in their second innings when last man Salman Irshad was stumped by Maqbool Ahmed to enable Zahid complete a thoroughly deserved 10-wicket haul in the opening-round game.
The 32-year-old leg-spinner from Dadu also reached a notable milestone in his 11-year career at the first-class level when he snared his 100th wicket on his way to the career-best return of 6-57 in 14.1 overs by getting rid of Waqas Ahmed — who was the fourth victim, caught in the slips by Mohammad Irfan for a 16-ball duck — and eventually finishing with a match haul of 10-108.
Zahid, who has been in top form since the start of new season, was surprisingly overlooked for the upcoming limited-overs series against Zimbabwe in Rawalpindi despite grabbing 12 wickets in the recent National T20 Cup while helping Southern Punjab qualify for the final.
Precariously placed at 31-3 in their second innings — and still requiring 311 to avert innings defeat — when play resumed on the penultimate morning, Northern made partial recovery before being dismissed for 246 with just discarded Pakistan all-rounder Hammad Azam offering some resistance. He hit a defiant 79 off 117 balls until he was trapped leg-before-wicket by Zahid.
Southern Punjab are now early leaders in the six-team standings after earning 28 points, while Northern managed just two.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are battling for survival after reaching stumps at 133-4 in pursuit of a daunting 413-run target against Balochistan at the UBL Sports Complex. They would have ended the day in a better position had spinner Kashif Bhatti not dismissed Kamran Ghulam on the final delivery of the day.
After losing top three wickets for only 29 runs, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa rallied through the partnership of 104 between Adil Amin (56 not out) and Kamran (51) before losing that wicket.
Earlier, Balochistan, who had taken a first-innings lead of 195 on Monday closed their second innings at 217-8 with off-spinner Sajid Khan taking 5-78 in 24.5 overs.
The showpiece fixture at the National Stadium saw Sindh hold definite edge over defending champions Central Punjab after Test batsman Fawad Alam had duly completed his 35th hundred in first-class cricket with his latest effort being third on the trot and a staggering 28th in the championship history.
Fawad, who began day three on 90, compiled 115 (250 balls, nine boundaries) while dominating the eighth-wicket stand of 117 with Tabish Khan (24), that eventually helped Sindh collect 239 in response to Central Punjab’s first-innings total of 207.
Sindh lost their final three wickets in nine deliveries after lunch for only one run in a dramatic fashion. Left-arm paceman Waqas Maqsood produced a snorter first ball after the break which Fawad could only fend to Kamran Akmal — who excelled with six catches behind the stumps — before cleaning up Mohammad Umar for a first-ball duck.
Mir Hamza denied Waqas (4-56 in 24 overs) hat-trick but got in the next over from Hasan Ali, the injury-riddled Pakistan paceman who took 3-40 but bowled eight no-balls in 21.3 overs.
Starting their second innings with deficit of 32 runs, Central Punjab four wickets for 56 runs before Usman Salahuddin (35) and Mohammad Saad (26) survived until stumps as the champions reached 120-4, holding a slender lead of 81 runs.
Slow left-armer Mohammad Asghar picked the vital scalps of Ahmed Shehzad for 19 — when he spun one viciously to clip the off bail of the disbelieving Pakistan discard — and captain Azhar Ali for 29.
Emerging paceman Mohammad Umar bagged the prized wicket of Kamran Akmal (4) after making the first breakthrough when he condemned Ali Zaryab to his second single-figure score of the game.
Close of play scores and result on Tuesday (day three of four):
First XI, first round:
At National Stadium: CENTRAL PUNJAB 207 in 86.4 overs (Ahmed Shehzad 69, Mohammad Saad 51, Kamran Akmal 24; Tabish Khan 5-44) and 120-4 in 56 overs (Usman Salahuddin 35 not out, Azhar Ali 29, Mohammad Saad 26 not out; Mohammad Umar 2-20, Mohammad Asghar 2-35); SINDH 239 in 105.3 overs (Fawad Alam 115, Khurram Manzoor 35, Tabish Khan 24; Waqas Maqsood 4-56, Hasan Ali 3-40 , Ahmed Bashir 2-56).
At UBL Sports Complex: BALOCHISTAN 362 in 110.2 overs (Bismillah Khan 118, Kashif Bhatti 98, Sami Aslam 56, Khurram Shehzad 37; Sajid Khan 3-96, Junaid Khan 2-53, Ahmed Jamal 2-70, Imran Khan 2-72) and 217-8 declared in 65.5 overs (Sami Aslam 48, Taimur Ali 41 not out, Yasir Shah 41; Sajid Khan 5-78); KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA 167 in 46.5 overs (Khalid Usman 57 not out, Kamran Ghulam 42, Sajid Khan 27; Khurram Shehzad 5-27, Yasir Shah 4-94) and 133-4 in 39 overs (Adil Amin 56 not out, Kamran Ghulam 51; Kashif Bhatti 2-42).
At NBP Sports Complex: Southern Punjab beat Northern by an innings and 96 runs.
NORTHERN 165 in 48.4 overs (Umar Amin 29, Faizan Riaz 29, Sarmad Bhatti 25, Zeeshan Malik 24, Hammad Azam 24; Zahid Mahmood 4-41, Agha Salman 3-34) and 246 in 65.1 overs (Hammad Azam 79, Asif Ali 39, Faizan Riaz 36, Nauman Ali 32, Zahid Mahmood 6-57, Mohammad Abbas 2-44); SOUTHERN PUNJAB 507-9 declared in 113.1 overs (Hussain Talat 253, Shan Masood 134, Umar Siddique 40, Bilawal Bhatti 31; Nauman Ali 4-153, Athar Mahmood 3-86).