Following Northern’s innings win over table-toppers Sindh, the other two Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2021-22 round-eight matches also brought results with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa defeating Southern Punjab by seven and Central Punjab overpowering Balochistan by five wickets respectively.

At the completion of the eight-round, the battle for the 25-29 December final at the National Stadium Karachi has intensified with Sindh (102 points) barely maintaining their top-spot (better net run-rate) against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – 102 points. Northern (101 points) are a mere point behind at number three following back-to-back wins in the seventh and eight rounds while Central Punjab (100 points) are a point behind Northern with 100 points.

The ninth-round that will commence from Sunday is set to provide real excitement with the four top-ranked teams giving their all to outdo each other in order to seal one of the top two spots to ensure a place in the five-day final.

Over at the State Bank of Pakistan Stadium in the match between Southern Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which was being live streamed on PCB’s YouTube channel, Sahibzada Farhan’s unbeaten 112 took Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to a convincing seven-wicket win over Southern Punjab.

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Farhan who is the season’s top run-getter, posted his third century of the tournament while taking his tally to 860 runs in 14 innings which his stupendous effort today. Farhan was instrumental in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s 220-run fourth innings chase today, he added 167 runs in the match winning third-wicket partnership with opener Ashfaq Ahmed who scored 77 (151 balls, eight fours) before his unfortunate run out.

Ashfaq and Farhan rescued the side after pacer Muhammad Ilyas had taken the first two wickets with only 18 runs on the board.

Farhan hit 19 fours and one six in his 159-ball effort. The resounding victory earned Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 21 points, Southern Punjab had a match tally of four points.

Central Punjab registered their second win of the season as they beat Balochistan by five wickets at the National Bank of Pakistan Sports Complex. Resuming at the overnight score of 62 for one chasing 212 for win, Central Punjab crashed to 104 for five and Balochistan looked favourites to register their first victory of the season at this stage.

However, Balochistan hopes were extinguished through an unbroken sixth-wicket 108-run partnership between Muhammad Saad and Saif Badar. Saad played a captain’s knock scoring 63 off 123 balls (eight fours). Saif remained unbeaten with 55 off 69 balls (five fours, one six).

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Akif Javed and Kashif Bhatti took two wickets each. Central Punjab collected 21 points with their outright victory while Balochistan had to settle for seven points.

Scores in brief:

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa beat Southern Punjab by seven wickets – State Bank of Pakistan Stadium, Karachi

Southern Punjab 166 for 9, 57.1 overs (Muhammad Imran 64, Yousuf Babar 28, Tayyab Tahir 26; Arshad Iqbal 4-41, Asif Afridi 2-36) and 40 for no loss, 12 overs.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 281 all out, 89.2 overs (Arshad Iqbal 62, Sahibzada Farhan 60; Muhammad Ilyas 4-71, Salman Ali Agha 3-32, Aamer Yamin 3-54) and 223 for 3, 56.5 overs (Sahibzada Farhan 112, Ashfaq Ahmed 77; Muhammad Ilyas 2-61)

Match points: Southern Punjab – four, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – 21.

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Central Punjab beat Balochistan by five wickets – National Bank of Pakistan Stadium, Karachi

Balochistan 325 all out, 104.4 overs (Shan Masood 102, Imran Butt 65, Kashif Bhatti 53; Zafar Gohar 5-126) and 148 all out, 33.2 overs (Gohar Faiz 36, Bismillah Khan 27, Umar Akmal 27; Muhammad Ali 5-50, Zafar Gohar 2-43)

Central Punjab 262 all out, 98.5 overs (Rizwan Hussain 50, Ali Zaryab 48, Saif Badar 44; Kashif Bhatti 7-85, Raza-ul-Hasan 2-99) and 212 for 5, 59 overs (Muhammad Saad 63 not out, Saif Badar 55 not out; Akif Javed 2-43, Kashif Bhatti 2-83)

Match points: Balochistan – seven, Central Punjab – 21.

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