Lahore: Centuries by Azhar Ali and Umar Akmal consolidated Central Punjab’s position in the final of the first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy tournament against Northern at Karachi’s National Stadium on Saturday.
Central Punjab amassed a mammoth score of 466 for five and boasted an imposing 212-run first innings lead when stumps were drawn on day two of the five-day contest.
The day started with the pair of Azhar and Salman Butt – who made 74, hitting 14 boundaries – pushing the Northern bowlers on the backfoot and denying any early inroads as the pair added 38 runs in their second-wicket partnership of 95 runs.
Azhar, the Pakistan Test captain, added 102 runs to his overnight score and raised his first-class career’s 39th century. He made 119 runs from 212 balls, out of which 14 were dispatched for boundaries.
After Salman’s wicket in the first session, Azhar continued to craft solid partnerships with the middle-order batsmen.
He paired with Central Punjab captain Babar Azam, who cracked nine fours and a six in his 89-ball 69, for a 125-run stand for the third-wicket before adding 93 runs for the fourth-wicket with Umar Akmal, who returned unbeaten after scoring a blistering 123.
Umar spanked Northern bowlers all around the ground smashing five sixes and 12 fours in the 115 balls he has faced to date.
He took the leading role in the 98-run partnership for the fifth-wicket with his elder brother Kamran Akmal (41).
This was the 29-year-old’s second century of the tournament and his 17th overall in first-class cricket.
Umar will have Zafar Gohar (nine) on his side when play resumes on Sunday.
Scores in brief:
Northern 254 all-out, 61 overs (Faizan Riaz 116, Rohail Nazir 80; Faheem Ashraf 5-54, Bilal Asif 3-37, Aizaz Cheema 2-56)
Central Punjab 466-5, 104 overs (Umar Akmal 123 not out, Azhar Ali 119, Salman Butt 74, Babar Azam 69, Kamran Akmal 41; Nauman Ali 2-113)