It was a clinical performance from Central Punjab (CP) - who were always ahead of the game in this all-important final match but despite having limited resources, the young guns from Northern put up a good fight considering the fact that they only had two players in their line-up who had represented Pakistan at the apex level.
With a towering batting line-up, Central Punjab stepped into the final of Quaid-e-Azam trophy as clear favourites. With as many as ten players who have represented the Pakistan national team, they were always going to be a tough side to beat.
Northern were found wanting against the new ball in the first innings, Faheem Ashraf bagged a fifer and Aizaz Cheema picked up two wickets before Bilal Asif, the man of the match, snapped up three wickets in the first innings. There were some individual noteworthy performances from Faizan Riaz, who struck a magnificent hundred, and the under-19 captain Rohail Nazir— who amassed 80 but nobody else got big runs.
Fourth Day Live Report: Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Final
The game was taken out of Northern's reach when Central Punjab came out to bat. It was almost like Pakistan national team taking on a minnow; Azhar Ali cashed in on his recently regained form and played a typical grinding knock (116). Salman Butt laid the platform with 74 runs and then Babar Azam piled up 69 before the enigmatic Umar Akmal took control of the situation.
Umar knitted a massive partnership with his brother, Kamran Akmal, and kept racing to milestones; 50, 100, 150 and then 200. His insatiable hunger for runs was evident as he went on to decimate the spineless bowling attack of Northern that couldn't match the likes of Faheem and Bilal.
After posting a mammoth total of 675/8d and then deciding to declare, Northern, in reply, couldn't emphatically resist CP's bowlers and kept losing wickets at regular intervals.
Haider Ali swiftly registered a hundred in the second innings and he was conspicuously elated after reaching the three-figure mark. He looked unflustered and swatted an array of boundaries in his enterprising knock.
Ali Sarfraz didn't knuckle under after Rohail got trapped LBW on a brute of a delivery from Ehsan Adil and he put up a spirited fightback before faltering against the guile of Bilal Asif while Hammad Azam started his innings with a flurry of boundaries but he kept losing partners from the other end and got ensnared for 38 by Bilal as he tried to plonk one over the midwicket region.
Bilal had a dream day at the office and bagged eight wickets in the second innings. The lanky off-spinner thrived in conditions that offered him some assistance. He made sure to get the most out of deteriorating fourth-day pitch and wrapped up the game rather quickly in the end by triggering a collapse.