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Asif lifts Northern to third win, KP edge Balochistan in thriller

KARACHI: Riding on a belligerent Asif Ali century, Northern maintained their clean sheet in the Pakistan Cup on Tuesday when they overwhelmed Southern Punjab by 57 runs at the UBL Sports Complex to record a third straight triumph in the 50-over competition.

Sahibzada Farhan went ballistic at the SBP Sports Complex with a blazing ton while helping Khyber Pakhtunkhwa seal a two-wicket victory after Balochistan had amassed a potential mach-winning total of 377-6.

Former Pakistan opener Khurram Manzoor roared into form at the NBP Sports Complex with a dazzling hundred that eventually enabled Sindh condemn Central Punjab to a third consecutive defeat in the six-team tournament.

After starting off with victories against Balochistan and Central Punjab, the Mohammad Nawaz-led Northern continued in the same vein after overcoming a disastrous start upfront, put into bat, Northern were in deep trouble at 48-3 before reaching 99-4 in 20 overs.

The arrival of Asif — the explosive right-hander who has been ditched by Pakistan since November 2019 — rejuvenated Northern’s innings. Following on the heels of his 76 against Central Punjab on Sunday, Asif plundered 127 from just 70 deliveries with his fourth List A ton containing 17 boundaries and five sixes before Northern finished at 306-9.

Nawaz scored 52 while adding 94 for the fifth wicket.

Mohammad Ilyas captured four wickets for 61 runs but his efforts were in vain when Southern Punjab were bowled out for 249 in 45.2 overs despite a 134-ball knock of 139 (12 fours and six sixes) by ex-Pakistan opener Mukhtar Ahmed after his side was reeling at 81-6 in 15 overs.

The televised game clash between Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was unsurprisingly a high-scoring affair given the ridiculously small boundaries of the otherwise impressive SBP Sports Complex. Both teams combined to amass no less than 755 runs.

After being sent in, Balochistan scored freely but it in the final lot of 10 overs they smashed 117 runs to reach 377-6. Opener Bismillah Khan (92 off 90, five fours and four sixes) and Awais Zia (66 off 61, six fours and two sixes) added 143 in 127 balls for the second wicket before captain Imran Farhat (77 off 68, four sixes and three fours) and Akbar-ur-Rehman (55 off 42, seven fours and one six) put on 122 in 94 deliveries during their fourth-wicket stand.

Undaunted by the enormous target, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa lost two early wickets for 42 runs but Farhan and Kamran Ghulam tilted the match in their favour by sharing a superb partnership of 185 in 150 balls. Farhan led the way by equalling his highest one-day score of 155 after getting to the three-figure mark in 86 balls. His 135-ball effort, which won him the man-of-the-match award, included 15 boundaries and three sixes.

Kamran’s 68-ball innings was embedded with four sixes and three fours. The icing on the cake, however, was provided by captain Khalid Usman’s 33-ball 56 (five fours and two sixes), while Sajid Khan also played a key role with 15-ball unbeaten cameo of 27.

Taj Wali bagged four wickets but his 10 overs cost the left-arm seamer 86 runs.

The return of their inspirational leader, Hasan Ali, failed to stop Central Punjab’s run of defeats. Opting to bat first, they posted 287 in 48.2 overs with Ali Zaryab (68 off 73 balls, four fours and two sixes), Tayyab Tahir (52 off 63, three fours and two sixes) and Hasan 44 off 28 (four sixes and two fours) being the major run-getters, while Mohammad Umar claimed 4-59 in 10 excellent overs of pace bowling.

Sindh romped home in 46.5 overs on the back of Khurram’s 25th List century as the right-hander struck a 120-ball 119 (10 fours and one six) and skipper Saud Shakeel making 58 off 62 balls (six boundaries) — the two adding 108 for the second wicket.

Results on Tuesday:

Third round:

At SBP Sports Complex, Karachi: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa beat Balochistan by two wickets.

BALOCHISTAN 377-6 in 50 overs (Bismillah Khan 92, Imran Farhat 77, Awais Zia 66, Akbar-ur-Rehman 55, Ayaz Tasawwar 38 not out; Irfanullah Shah 2-65, Arshad Iqbal 2-79); KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA 378-8 in 49.4 overs (Sahibzada Farhan 155, Kamran Ghulam 81, Khalid Usman 56, Sajid Khan 27 not out, Israrullah 24; Taj Wali 4-74, Umaid Asif 2-54).

At UBL Sports Complex, Karachi: Northern beat Southern Punjab by 57 runs.

NORTHERN 306-9 in 50 overs (Asif Ali 127, Mohammad Nawaz 52, Mubasir Khan 27, Ali Imran 22, Hammad Azam 22; Mohammad Ilyas 4-61, Zahid Mahmood 2-43); SOUTHERN PUNJAB 249 in 45.2 overs (Mukhtar Ahmed 139, Sohaib Maqsood 40; Mohammad Ismail 3-47, Mohammad Nawaz 2-21, Salman Irshad 2-44, Athar Mahmood 2-54).

At NBP Sports Complex, Karachi: Sindh beat Central Punjab by six wickets.

CENTRAL PUNJAB 287 in 48.2 overs (Ali Zaryab 68, Tayyab Tahir 52, Hasan Ali 44, Qasim Akram 30, Saad Nasim 22, Bilal Asif 22; Mohammad Umar 4-59, Saud Shakeel 2-34, Anwar Ali 2-48); SINDH 289-4 in 46.5 overs (Khurram Manzoor 119, Saud Shakeel 58, Azam Khan 29, Asad Shafiq 28).

Thursday’s fixtures (all matches start at 9:30am PST): Central Punjab vs Southern Punjab (SBP Sports Complex, Karachi); Balochistan vs Sindh (UBL Sports Complex, Karachi); Khyber Pakhtunkhwa vs Northern (NBP Sports Complex, Karachi).

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