The defending champions Northern will begin their National T20 Cup against the most experienced side Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the opening game in Multan.
The 21-year-old Shadab Khan will lead Northern in the absence of Imad Wasim only in the first round whereas KPK will be captained by wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan, who couldn’t take his team to the final of the tournament last year.
Both teams are a blend of youth and experience. Shadab will look to replicate his Pakistan Super League’s (PSL) performances as a captain with the bat as he scored 263 runs at an average of 37.57 for Islamabad United. They have high hopes from emerging batsman Haider Ali and Zeeshan Malik at the top.
Two batsmen for Northern, Umar Amin and Ali Imran will again try to put performances and hope that it gets highlighted as they went under the carpet last year. Umar was the tournament’s second and Northern highest run-scorer. He struck 266 runs from 7 matches at an average of 38 and a strike rate of 133. Ali registered 191 runs from 6 matches at an average of over 30 and a strike rate of 145.80. Young wicket-keeper batsman Rohail Nazir is also part of the team and will take the gloves behind the stumps.
The bowling attack will be led by the experienced duo of Mohammad Amir and Sohail Tanvir. It would be interesting to see who they pick from Haris Rauf and Muhammad Musa as it is unlikely that they will play together due to the presence of Mohammad Nawaz, Hammad Azam, and Sohail Akhtar, who will fill the all-round category.
Meanwhile, KPK’S skipper Rizwan will eye to claim the player of the tournament award once again which he received last year for scoring 215 runs at an average of 43 with a strike-rate of 132. He will be immensely supported by two former captains Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik in the middle-order.
Fakhar Zaman and Sahibzada Farhan will bat up the order. Iftikhar Ahmed and Asif Afridi in the middle-order order to compliment Hafeez, Rizwan, and Malik. Out of the national team, Junaid Khan is the vice-captain of the side. He will lead the bowling pack with the assistance of Wahab Riaz, Shaheen Afridi, Usman Shinwari, Imran Khan Sr, and Arshad Iqbal. Mohammad Mohsin and Zohaib Khan will complement the team with their all-round abilities.
It must be noted that the two matches will be played each day at 3.30 pm and 7.30 pm.