The eight-round of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2021-22 season begins at three Karachi venues from Monday. Table-toppers Sindh are eying their first-ever spot in the revamped tournament’s (2019-20 onwards) 25-29 December final at the National Stadium Karachi.
Sindh have had a dramatic change in fortunes after recording back to back wins since the 2021-22 edition of the prestigious tournament moved to Karachi following the first five rounds in Punjab.
After a single result in the first 15 matches played in Punjab, the tournament sprung to life since moving to Karachi with results in as many as five out of the six matches played in the city so far. The trend is expected to continue with the three eight-round matches commencing from tomorrow.
Sindh will take on Northern in their eight-round fixture at the UBL Sports Complex, Karachi.
Sindh are on a high after registering a fine comeback victory over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at the State Bank Stadium courtesy a six-wicket haul by left-arm pacer Mir Hamza in KP’s second innings on Friday.
Hamza (second-most wickets in the tournament – 23) and the Sindh battery of pacers (Sohail Khan, Mohammad Hasnain and Shahnawaz Dahani) were the architects of the 127-run win which earned Sindh their impressive victory following their comprehensive innings thrashing of Balochistan in the sixth-round.
They will however be up against a rampant Northern side that handed a nine-wicket drubbing to Central Punjab at the National Bank of Pakistan Sports Complex courtesy a maiden double century by Haider Ali and first-class career-best bowling performance by Haris Rauf.
Both Haider and Haris along with Shahnawaz are not going to feature in the match as they are set to join the Pakistan squad for the white-ball series against West Indies.
The win over Central Punjab earned Northern valuable points but they are still languishing in the fifth-spot in the table with 78 points, an outright win with bonus points will surely see them surge ahead in the table.
Southern Punjab tie against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa at the State Bank Stadium, Karachi will be live-streamed on PCB’s YouTube channel.
Southern Punjab arrived in Karachi at the top of the table but have since lost the top-spot to Sindh. After enduring a comprehensive defeat to Central Punjab in the sixth-round, Southern Punjab played out a draw against Balochistan in the seventh-round. The high scoring fixture at the UBL Sports Complex ensured that Southern Punjab don’t slip further than their second spot in the table.
They at present, enjoy a five point lead over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who after beating Northern in the sixth-round lost to Sindh in their seventh-round fixture.
The top two run-getters in the season KP’s Sahibzada Farhan (688 runs) and Southern Punjab’ Tayyab Tahir (644 runs) will be hoping to play a leading role for their respective sides in their quest for crucial points as the teams vie for an entry into the tournament final.
Central Punjab to play Balochistan at the NBP Sports Complex, Karachi. Fourth in the table, Central Punjab will be eying valuable bonus points and a win over the sixth-placed Balochistan when the two sides clash in the eight-round fixture.
Both 2021-22 season matches at the venue have produced result with Central Punjab on the receiving end against Northern in the seventh-round match last week.
Central Punjab, the reigning joint champions, are currently 20 points behind Sindh and would need at least a draw with some bonus points in their kitty to retain a realistic chance of sealing one of the two final berths.
Balochistan with 64 points are still not totally out of the run for a final-spot. The team received a boost with the inclusion of Shan Masood in their ranks in the round-seven match. The left-hander responded with a blazing century as his side amassed a 606-run total with Ayaz Tassawar and captain Bismillah Khan also scoring centuries.
Balochistan would be hoping to maintain the batting form on a venue where bowlers have remained in the hunt in both round-six and seven matches.
- Sindh vs Northern –UBL Sports Complex, Karachi
- Southern Punjab vs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa –State Bank Stadium, Karachi
- Central Punjab vs Balochistan –NBP Sports Complex, Karachi
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