‘Power-packed’ National T20 Cup promises high-quality cricket

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Pakistan’s top-class tournament, National T20 Cup will start tomorrow at the Pindi Cricket Stadium where top cricketers from the country will take part.

Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has planned to organize this tournament in a high-class manner after they faced losses due to the cancelation of New Zealand and England tours.

The first leg will run until 3 October at Rawalpindi’s Pindi Cricket Stadium, before the action moves to Gaddafi Stadium, Pakistan’s home of cricket, where the second leg will be staged from 6-13 October.

Nearly PKR9million prize money will be up for grabs in the National T20.PKR5million will be awarded to the winners while the runner-up will receive PKR2.5million.

PKR400,000 will be shared equally between the tournament’s top performers which include player of the tournament, best batsman of the tournament, best bowler of the tournament and best wicketkeeper of the tournament.

The best performer of every match will get PKR25,000 as the man-of-the-match award while the top performer of the tournament’s finale will be rewarded PKR35,000.

Each of the six teams have big names and emerging T20 talent. All 18 Pakistan players (including the three travelling reserves) part of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup touring party will be seen in action.

Let’s have a look at the teams:

Balochistan

Balochistan has a new leader in the shape of Imam-ul-Haq this year. He has replaced Haris Sohail, who was leading the side last year. They have quite experience in batting while bowling also possesses quality.

Imam-ul-Haq: “This event is just like a mini-Pakistan Super League with the quality and competition on display. This tournament will be a wonderful preparation opportunity for the players who are in the T20 World Cup squad as all six teams will go all-out for glory.

“The Rawalpindi crowd is passionate about the game and they never let us down with their backing of players and quality cricket. I am sure they are disappointed due to New Zealand’s withdrawal from their tour, but I request them to turn-up as all six teams will try their best to entertain them with quality cricket in the Rawalpindi-leg.”

Squad: Imam-ul-Haq (captain), Bismillah Khan (vice-captain and wicketkeeper), Abdul Wahid Bangalzai, Akbar-ur-Rehman, Akif Javed, Amad Butt, Ayaz Tasawar, Gohar Faiz, Haris Sohail, Jalat Khan, Junaid Khan, Kashif Bhatti, Khurram Shahzad, Mohammad Ibrahim Snr, Umaid Asif and Yasir Shah

Central Punjab

Central Punjab looks the most dangerous side on paper with Babar Azam, leading them. The team has biggest Pakistani names like Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib, Malik, Wahab Riaz, Kamran Akmal and Babar himself.

Babar Azam: “The quality of cricket is very high in the National T20 events, backed by the outstanding pitches at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, the Rawalpindi-leg should produce wonderful entertainment. For us, the event is a great opportunity for T20 World Cup preparations and I hope all players in the UAE-bound squad will give it their all in the event. We have a richly experienced side that is full of international stars, my aim would be to lead Central Punjab to the title and improve on our performances in the last two seasons.

“I want to request to the fans especially in Rawalpindi to turn up and make full use of the 25 per cent attendance, I know there is a real disappointment after the setback last weekend; this event provides us a real opportunity of proving to the world our passion for cricket. Fans should come and support all the six sides, we all are endeavouring to entertain them and the ones who will follow us through the TV and digital media coverage all around the world.”

Squad: Babar Azam (captain), Hasan Ali (vice-captain), Abdullah Shafique, Ahmed Safi Abdullah, Ahmed Shehzad, Ehsan Adil, Faheem Ashraf, Hussain Talat, Kamran Akmal (wicketkeeper), Mohammad Akhlaq (wicketkeeper), Mohammad Hafeez, Qasim Akram, Saif Badar, Shoaib Malik, Usman Qadir, Wahab Riaz and Waqas Maqsood

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will defend the title under the captaincy of wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan. Rizwan has quality Pakistani stars which include Fakhar Zaman, Shaheen Shah and Mohammad Wasim.

Mohammad Rizwan: “The tournament provides us a great opportunity to prove to the world that we are as safe as any cricketing destination, all the players are motivated to go a step extra this time around in the National T20. The Pindi crowd is a passionate crowd which supports cricket and has always come in its numbers to back our national events.

“All six teams are balanced, as defending champions our aim would be to defend our title. We have good quality all-rounders in our squad and that should help us as you do need capable back-up bowling options at times besides your main bowling attack.”

Squad: Mohammad Rizwan (captain and wicketkeeper), Shaheen Shah Afridi (vice-captain),
Adil Amin, Arshad Iqbal, Asif Afridi, Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imran Khan Snr, Israrullah, Maaz Khan, Mohammad Haris (wicketkeeper), Mohammad Imran Khan, Mohammad Wasim, Mussadiq Ahmed and Sahibzada Farhan

Northern

Northern are also one of the lethal teams having balance in all departments. Led by Shadab Khan, the team is a blend of youth and youngsters. Imad Wasim is also part of the side. Northern also possesses a fiery pace attack while they quality spin bowling options.

Shadab Khan: “The Pindi Cricket Stadium is my home ground and I started playing here as a kid. The crowd in Rawalpindi has always supported quality cricket and I know while the fans are a bit disappointed at the cancellation of the New Zealand series they would come to the venue to back our national event.

“We have a quality bowling attack as most of our bowlers are Pakistan regulars in white-ball formats. The tournament will surely help us in the preparations for the T20 World Cup, there would be great competition too as all six teams have good depth and quality players in their ranks. I am hopeful that we can repeat the 2019 performances and win the trophy once again.”

Squad: Shadab Khan (captain), Mohammad Nawaz (vice-captain), Rohail Nazir (wicketkeeper), Ali Imran, Asif Ali, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Imad Wasim, Musa Khan, Nasir Nawaz, Salman Irshad, Sohail Akhtar, Sohail Tanvir, Umer Amin, Zaman Khan and Zeeshan Malik

Sindh

Sindh will look to dominate this time around after having disappointing last season. Batting line-up has power to post big totals while bowling attack is potent too.

Sarfaraz Ahmed: “Our fans have always been our strength and while we are going through another tough phase at the moment, it is the fans who can lift us up, the fans need to support the team and the PCB and show the world how resilient we are. I request the fans to turn up at the venue and back the players as they will be given quality entertainment in this quality tournament.

“The tournament will also provide great practice and preparation opportunities to the T20 World Cup bound players. I am happy with the Sindh combination, the team played well last season and made it to the semi-finals, this year around we are aiming to go better and make it to the event final and lift the trophy.”

Squad: Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain and wicketkeeper), Anwar Ali (vice-captain), Abrar Ahmed, Ahsan Ali, Danish Aziz, Hassan Mohsin, Khurram Manzoor, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Hasnain, Muhammad Taha, Ruman Raees, Saud Shakeel, Shan Masood, Shahnawaz Dahani, Sharjeel Khan and Zahid Mahmood

Southern Punjab

Sohaib Maqsood will lead the side after he had a brilliant season which earned him a call-up in the national side. They have the fire-power in batting while also have exciting pacers, left-arm-spin orthodox and unorthodox options.

Sohaib Maqsood: “While there is real disappointment due to the recent developments, it is the fans who will lift us and provide the backing we need. The National T20 is a quality tournament that provides rich entertainment to the fans, I really hope that we will see the fans show their passion in Rawalpindi and Lahore.

“While all six teams are well-balanced, I am very excited about the Southern Punjab squad as their leader. We have prepared really well at the pre-season camp and while I was not part of the camp, I have nonetheless heard and observed a real commitment, hunger and focus amongst the players for the upcoming events starting with the National T20. Last year we played the final and this year we plan to go one step better and lift the trophy.”

Squad: Sohaib Maqsood (captain), Zeeshan Ashraf (vice-captain), Amir Yamin, Azam Khan (wicketkeeper), Dilbar Hussain, Faisal Akram, Hassan Khan, Imran Randhawa, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Ilyas, Naseem Shah, Salman Ali Agha, Tayyab Tahir, Umer Khan, Zain Abbas and Zia-ul-Haq

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