Wednesday, May 22, 2024

PCB: Pakistan white-ball stars to feature in seventh Quaid-e-Azam Trophy round

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Photo Credit: Pakistan Cricket Board

  • Bismillah Khan to captain Balochistan as Imran Butt steps down, Shahnawaz Dahani and Sharjeel Khan to feature for Sindh, Zeeshan Ashraf included in Southern Punjab squad
  • Umar Akmal and Shan Masood to play for Balochistan, Ali Shan and Ahmed Bashir included in Central Punjab
  • Haider Ali and Haris Rauf join Northern, Iftikhar Ahmed returns to captain Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Sindh will begin the seventh-round of Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2021-22 from an unfamiliar top position in the six-team points table. Sindh had failed to make it to the top-three in either of the previous two seasons since the revamped domestic structure was put in place in 2019.

This season has brought a positive change in fortunes for the Asad Shafiq-led side that thumped Balochistan by an innings and 188 runs in their round-six match to not only record their first win of the season but also accumulate enough points (28) to upstage Southern Punjab at the top of the table.

Sindh have a tally of 80 points. Central Punjab, who also registered their first win of the season in the previous round, a resounding innings victory over Southern Punjab, are at number two on the table with 76 points.

The innings defeat to Central has brought Southern down from the top to the third spot with 74 points.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are placed fourth. They also recorded their first victory of the season, a closely fought four-wicket triumph over Northern at the NBP Sports Complex, Karachi.

Northern are fifth with 53 points while Balochistan are a point behind and languishing at the bottom spot among the six teams.

Southern Punjab will take on Balochistan in their seventh-round fixture at the UBL Sports Complex, Karachi.

Southern Punjab’s Tayyab Tahir is currently the fourth-highest run-getter of the season. The right-hander has scored 546 runs, his tally of runs includes a double century and four fifties. Left-arm-spinner Ali Usman tops the bowling charts for the season and Southern Punjab will be relying on him for breakthroughs, the 29-year-old has 29 wickets so far including two five-wicket hauls.

Opener Zeeshan Ashraf has replaced Naveed Yasin in the Southern Punjab squad. 

Balochistan will have a change in leadership for the seventh-round, opener Imran Butt has stepped down to concentrate on his batting and will be replaced by wicketkeeper-batter Bismillah Khan. Imran is Balochistan’s leading run-getter with a tally of 510 runs in six matches at 56.67. Balochistan’s off-spinner Raza-ul-Hasan is the side’s leading wicket-taker with 15 wickets in four matches.

Shan Masood comes in Balochistan’s squad, he has been transferred to the side from Sindh, Shan did not play for Sindh. Seasoned middle-order batter Umar Akmal will also be featuring for Balochistan.

Sindh’s tie against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at the State Bank Stadium, Karachi will be live-streamed on PCB’s YouTube channel.

Sindh will be further bolstered by the return of fast bowler Shahnawaz Dahani. The right-armer made his T2oI debut for Pakistan in the third T20I of the ongoing tour of Bangladesh. The 23-year-old has a tally of 27 wickets in eight first-class matches so far. Leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed recorded the best innings figures of the season as his six wickets for 40 runs in the sixth-round match sent Balochistan packing for an innings defeat.

Sindh Opener Ahsan Ali has been in smashing form this season, after posting a triple-century, the right-hander plundered the Balochistan attack with a scintillating 194 in the previous game. Ahsan is third amongst the highest run-getters (567 runs in only three matches at 283.5). Left-arm-spinner Mohammad Asghar has collected 20 wickets so far for Sindh.

Opener Sharjeel Khan will also be available for the match, the left-hander has replaced fellow left-hander Shan who will now be part of the Balochistan squad.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have been well-served by opener Sahibzada Farhan who is at the top of the batting charts at present. The right-hander has tallied 645 runs in six games at 71.67 with the help of two centuries and four fifties.

The joint reigning champions will also be relying on their experienced middle and lower-order led by Adil Amin, the right-hander pulled his side out of trouble in the first innings against Northern last week with the help of contributions from seasoned all-rounders Asif Afridi and Khalid.

Adil scored 128 in his rearguard effort that lifted the side from a precarious 77 for six in the first innings to their eventual four-wicket win in the match. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will be further bolstered by the return of the seasoned Iftikhar Ahmed who was part of Pakistan T20I side on the tour of Bangladesh.

Northern will take on Central Punjab at the NBP Sports Complex, Karachi. The fifth-placed Northern have all to play for in the seventh-round fixture. The Umar Amin-led side fought hard against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in their narrow loss at the same venue last week. They are, however, bolstered with the returns of batter Haider Ali and pacer Haris Rauf.

So far, Northern have failed to register a win in the season. None of their batters or bowlers feature in the top-five performers. However, young opener Abu Huraira has been hugely impressive in his maiden first-class season, the right-hander who represented Pakistan in the ICC Men’s U19 World Cup last year is currently number eight in the batting charts with a tally of 497 runs at 49.70.

Huraira has already hit two centuries and two fifties. The 33-year-old Faizan Riaz is a spot below with 489 runs at 61.13, his tally includes two centuries and one fifty.

Among the bowlers, Musa Khan is Northern’s leading wicket-taker with 13 wickets in five matches which places him at the 10th spot in the bowling charts.

Central Punjab must be buoyed by their overwhelming victory against Southern Punjab which was set-up by opener Rizwan Hussain’s smashing 253. The left-hander hit 34 fours and three sixes as Central Punjab posted a mammoth first innings score of 459 after restricting Southern Punjab to 228. Rizwan’s 253 is currently the second-highest individual score of the season behind Ahsan’s unbeaten 303.

Rizwan ensured that Central don’t miss their top run-getter Abid Ali (611 runs), Abid is currently playing the first Test for Pakistan against Bangladesh in Chattogram. Amongst the bowlers, pacer Mohammad Ali (17 wickets) and left-arm-spinner Zafar Gohar (17 wickets) have served the side well in the tournament so far. Pacer Bilawal Iqbal took a five-fer in the second innings against Southern Punjab last week.

Meanwhile, wicketkeeper Ali Shan will take the gloves in place of the banned Junaid Ali while pacer Ahmed Bashir has also been added to the Central Punjab squad.

Seventh-round fixtures:

Southern Punjab vs Balochistan –UBL Sports Complex, Karachi

Sindh vs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa –State Bank Stadium, Karachi

Northern vs Central Punjab –NBP Sports Complex, Karachi

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