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Naseem Shah's nine wickets bolsters Central Punjab's reign at the top
Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2019

Naseem Shah's nine wickets bolsters Central Punjab's reign at the top

Central Punjab have consolidated their lead at the top of the points table at the end of the fifth round of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy with all three matches ending in a draw.

Southern Punjab continue to trail the number one ranked Central Punjab in the second spot, having narrowed the gap between the two teams to 18 points.

Central Punjab vs Sindh

The enthralling contest at Faisalabad's Iqbal Stadium saw Sindh salvage a close draw after a middle-order collapse threatened to consign them to their second loss of the season.

Set a target of 331, Sindh were rocked by another blazing spell of pace bowling from teenage sensation Naseem Shah.

Building on his terrific six-wicket haul in the first innings, Naseem picked up three wickets on the last day to finish with figures of nine for 111 in the match.

The 16-year-old, who was recently selected in the national side for the two Tests in Australia, outfoxed the batsmen with his sharp bouncers and searing yorkers.

Sindh managed 158-8 in reply and were helped by a resolute knock from skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed as he led an exuberant countercharge to put pressure on the opposition.

Sarfaraz hit seven boundaries during his enterprising 62-ball 54 before being dismissed towards the close of play.

Earlier on the final day, Salman Butt brought up the 24th century of his first-class career as he remained unbeaten at 137.

The game was also marred by the unfortunate incident of ball-tampering, with Central Punjab skipper Ahmed Shehzad punished by the Pakistan Cricket Board.

Balochistan vs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

The high-scoring contest between Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ended in a draw as the latter amassed 220 runs for the loss of five wickets in 45 overs while chasing 306.

Earlier in the game, Balochistan's Imran Butt struck a double century as his side posted a mammoth 553-8 declared in their first innings.

Butt was accompanied by skipper Imran Farhat, who scored 134 runs in 219 deliveries, while Awais Zia and Bismillah Khan made half-centuries.

In reply, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were powered by a fantastic century from Adil Amin as they cut the deficit to 147 runs.

Following a batting collapse triggered by off-spinner Sajid Khan's third five-wicket haul, Balochistan stuttered to 158-8 as they tried to swiftly add onto their expansive lead.

Tournament's leading wicket-taker Yasir Shah registered six scalps across the two innings.

Northern vs Southern Punjab

The run-fest played out at Sialkot's Jinnah Stadium witnessed a total of nine 50-plus scores in the match as batsmen exploited the flat surfaces to rack up a plethora of runs.

Northern batted first to post 550-6 declared at a rapid pace of 4.42 runs an over with the bulk of the scoring coming from Zeeshan Malik (216) and Umar Amin (156).

The two forged a 358-run stand for the second wicket as Southern Punjab's bowlers toiled hard in the field.

The Shan Masood-led Southern Punjab managed to take their first-innings total to 453 all out at the back of centuries from Sami Aslam and Sohaib Maqsood.

Sami exhibited tremendous composure during his 186-ball 100 while Maqsood bludgeoned 15 boundaries and two maximums in his run-a-ball 111.

Northern held the upper hand on the proceedings on the final day, reaching 212-4 despite the dismissal of Amin for a low score.