Tighten your seatbelts as one of the top domestic tournaments ‘Pakistan Cup’ is ready to lit up the stage at Pindi Cricket Stadium from April 2 where five teams will fight for 11 days to lift the coveted title on April 12.
Top-notch local players along with some young talented bunch will brace the event which ensures two weeks of exciting cricket. The tournament is likely to pave the way for some players to put themselves under consideration for World Cup.
All the five franchises are the combination of players from different regions.
Defending champions Federal Areas will be led by Mohammad Rizwan who will be highly looking forward to his spot in the World Cup squad. The right-handed batsman after scoring two centuries against Australia is a strong candidate for the position of second wicket-keeper in the team’s squad for the upcoming mega event.
Ahmad Shahzad, who has shown his class in recently concluded Pakistan Super League (PSL) while representing Quetta Gladiators, is surely a strong prospect for the two-times champion Federal Areas. His place in World Cup’s squad is tough but the right-handed opener will try to convince selectors to play his second World Cup.
Sohaib Maqsood and Rameez Raja Jr will add depth in Federal Area’s batting. Left-arm pacer Rumman Raees, Waqas Maqsood, and Mohammad Nawaz will lead the bowling department of Rizwan and men.
Seasoned Test batsman Asad Shafiq is looking forward to leading Baluchistan from the front. He will be accompanied by mostly the players from Sindh including Fawad Alam who is a strong prospect in middle-order batting and knows how to release pressure in tough situations. He has scored 6445 runs so far in his List A career at an average of 48.82 including eight centuries and 40 half-centuries.
With a decent strike-rate of 97.22, left-handed batsman Awais Zia can be lethal for Baluchistan in top-order batting. The middle-order batsman, Umar Akmal’s presence in Baluchistan would be a cherry on the cake. He had failed to gain his form during the ODI series against Australia but he can be dangerous on his day. This tournament is an ideal opportunity for the 28-years-old to mark his place in World Cup’s squad.
On the other hand, PSL finds young pace bowlers Haris Rauf and Ghulam Mudassar will be the keys for Baluchistan to show dominance with the bowl. This will Haris’s first domestic tournament while Mudassar has bagged 41 wickets in 33 List A matches.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will have the services of left-handed batsman Salman Butt as captain with not a strong batting line as apart from Abid Ali they mostly have young batsmen. Abid Ali, who had scored a century on his ODI debut, will put his all efforts to fulfill his dream to play the world’s biggest cricketing event. He must be concerned over his fitness as he failed to clear the fitness test in Dubai but still his overall performance makes him a strong prospect for the upcoming extravaganza.
The prolific bowling line of KP makes them threatning as they contain one of the top-three bowlers of Pakistan including Wahab Riaz, Sohail Khan, and Mohammad Irfan. The trio is potent and can destroy the toughest batting line on their day.
Newly-looked Sindh is all set to roar under a new captain Umar Gul who is searching a first title victory for his team. Bowlers like Junaid Khan, Rahat Ali, Young Mohammad Hasnain and Mohammad Ilyas will add immense value to the bowling attack of Sindh. Husnain, who did debut during the ODI series against Australia, keeps the ability to deceive the batsmen with pace. Junaid’s experience will take all the bowlers on one page.
In batting, Asif Ali is the prominent name the Sindh’s team have got. The right-handed batsman has a handsome strike of 130.71 which ensures his ability to race the inning in death overs.
Punjab looks probably one of the toughest sides in this year’s Pakistan Cup as it contains batsmen like Kamran Akmal, Khurram Manzoor, and Iftikhar Ahmed. Khurram, who was the highest run-scorer of last season of the tournament, will play an important role along with captain Kamran while opening the inning for his team. He has scored 6674 runs at an average of 52.96 in his List A career.
Kamran, on the hand, is targeting to get his form back as the wicket-keeper batsman was failed to inspire the PSL’s audience in the fourth edition of the league.
Hailed from Karachi, Mohammad Sami will lead the pace battery of Punjab which is consist of experience bowlers such as Sohail Tanveer, Anwar Ali and Bilawal Bhatti.
Pakistan Cup is an ideal chance for some players to make their presence felt and leave an impression on the selectors who are likely to announce the World Cup squad by April 15.