Defending champions Central Punjab under the leadership of Hasan Ali is all geared up to face valiant Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the final of Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2020-21 at the National Stadium from tomorrow.
Central Punjab is just a step away from a fairy tale end after they were down and out from the tournament as they were placed at the bottom of the fifth-round without a single win.
The team made an inspirational comeback winning four out of their last five matches and advanced to the second spot on the points table.
The side is highly dependant on the middle-order, comprising of Usman Salahuddin (797 tournament runs at 46.88), Mohammad Saad (608 tournament runs at 35.76) and Saad Nasim (575 tournament runs at 52.27).
The trio didn’t allow their side to observe the absence of batsmen Ahmed Shehzad and Kamran Akmal as they possessed great skill with the bat.
The 30-year-old Usman smashed an unbeaten 219 off 346 balls against Southern Punjab in the last round, leading his side to victory while Saad Nasim has been in sublime form as he scored runs in only seven matches with the help of four half-centuries and one century.
The biggest leapfrog for CP was Hasan, who was handed the leadership from the fourth round. He is the leading fast bowler in the tournament with 38 wickets in eight matches including two five-wicket hauls and one ten-wicket haul.
He has been immensely supported by Waqas Maqsoos who has bagged 34 wickets in nine games while spinner Ahmed Safi Abdullah complimented pacer and claimed 33 wickets in nine games.
“I am delighted with the performance of my team; our journey to the final is a fantastic story which exemplifies the character and strength of the team and the management. Despite a poor start, we never lost belief and we knew that we had the ability of turning things around,” Hasan said in a PCB’s press release.
“We have a great blend of youth and experience and that has helped us immensely especially in the tough situations we have to face. It truly has been an all-round effort and I am really looking forward to an exciting final and the team as a whole is now fully focussed and confident of retaining the prestigious Quaid-e-Azam Trophy,” he added.
KPK finished as the top side on the points table by gathering 161 points (five wins, four draws, one defeat). They registered the most win by any side in the double-league group stage.
KPK have the services of Kamran Ghulam, who is the only batter to cross the 1,000-run mark in this season.
The 25-year-old has amassed 1,065 runs from 18 innings (10 matches) with the help of four centuries and as many fifty at an average of 59.17.
Right-hander Adil Amin has also been impressive, accumulating 755 runs in nine matches. The 30-year-old batted at 47.19 with the help of a century and five half-centuries.
Left-handed opener Israrullah has scored 608 runs at 35.76, while wicketkeeper Rehan has a tally of 550 tournament runs at 34.38.
The bowling attack is led by off-spinner Sajid Khan yielded 62 wickets in 10 matches at 24.81 with the help of five fifers.
Sajid is supported by captain Khalid Usman, who has bagged 32 wickets in 10 matches with his left-arm spin at 31.28.
“Our team has gelled brilliantly in the tournament with both batting and bowling departments delivering consistently. Kamran Ghulam and Sajid Khan have been outstanding for us but I would like to stress that all the players in the squad have given their 100 per cent and we have seen a number of match winning performances at various stages of the season,” said Khalid.
“The final will be an exciting one with two in-form and balanced sides. We are one step away from lifting the trophy that we have worked really hard for and we are entering the final with the same positive mind-set which we have maintained in the season,” he added.
If the final ends as a draw, the winner will be decided as per the following criteria:
- The team that racked up the most first innings points as per 16.9 of PCB Playing Conditions 2020
- If the first innings points are tied, then both the teams will be declared as joint winners (first Innings lead shall not be considered)
If the first innings of both the teams is not completed within the scheduled duration, the match shall be considered as drawn and both the teams will be declared as joint winners.