Lahore: All six cricket associations captains are ready to roar in the National T20 Cup First XI tournament, scheduled to start from tomorrow in Multan.
Here’s what captains have to say before the start of mega event:
Balochistan captain Haris Sohail:
“We are really excited and want to give a better performance than last year when we lost the final. Our aim is to win the trophy and we have worked hard in the build-up. Last year, we played great cricket and it was only a passage of five to six overs in the final where we could not play good cricket and that is where I feel we lost the final.
“We have a strong top and middle-order while in Yasir Shah and Kashif Bhatti we have quality spinners, we have a strong pace attack with the addition of Umaid Asif.”
Saad Nasim captain Central Punjab:
“It is a big opportunity for me to lead Central Punjab in the first leg of the tournament; we have some exciting U19 talent that has given new energy to our squad. We are determined to put the disappointing performances of last year behind us and target a semi-final spot, of course with an eye on the tournament trophy by playing the final. We have good combination of youth and experience. Kamran Akmal and Abid Ali will lead the batting charge with their experience and quality.
“Bilal Asif and Naseem Shah are quality bowlers in our ranks and we have upcoming players like Rizwan Hussain, Abdullah Shafiq, Qasim Akram and Sohaibullah. We also have quality all-rounders in Zafar Gohar and Usman Qadir. We have a balanced side full of talent and youngsters who have a bright future. Our aim is to play positive cricket and make it all the way in the tournament.”
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa captain Mohammad Rizwan:
“Our team has all bases covered as we have strong batting and bowling departments. We are known for playing an aggressive brand of cricket and many people are rating us as favourites.
“We play Northern, the defending champions, in the opening match of the tournament and it is going to be good competition as both teams are highly competitive.”
Northern vice-captain Shadab Khan:
“Leading Northern in the Multan-leg is a big opportunity for me, which I am aiming to grab with both hands. We are the title defenders and our team and the combination is pretty much the same as the last year. The boys are preparing hard and are looking in good shape despite returning to cricket after some time, which makes me confident that we will be able to defend our title.
“Two youngsters I am looking forward to making a mark in this tournament are Zeeshan Malik, who played with me at the U19 level, and Haider Ali, who could not play last year but is all set to play a vital role in our team this season.”
Sindh captain Sarfaraz Ahmed:
“I think in our team, Sharjeel Khan will play a key role. He is a dashing batsman and stroke player and when he plays well he makes a match one-sided. In T20 format, you need to perform in both batting and bowling departments, we have balance and experience in both departments.
“We would aim to gain and then sustain momentum with an eye on the semi-finals; T20 is a kind of format where momentum is the key and if we get that early we can go a long way in the tournament.”
Southern Punjab captain Shan Masood:
“We are well-aware that this tournament is going to be highly competitive as all the top T20 players in the country are participating in it. With this tournament being played on double-league basis, what matters the most is how the teams finish and carry the momentum from here to the Rawalpindi-leg.
“I am very happy with the core of our team, which might not include big names but comprise youngsters who will be empowered and will be designated responsibilities in all departments. Our coach Abdur Rehman has put in a lot of thought in selecting this team, which provides us ample options depending on what side we play in which stadium. I am very confident that if we stick to our plans, we will play the final in Rawalpindi.”