Pakistan News

Top players gear up for main round action in T20 Cup

Top players gear up for main round action in T20 Cup

RAWALPINDI: The twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad brace for cricketing thrills and spills over the next eight days when the big boys of Pakistan cricket enter the fray at the start of the main round of the Cool & Cool presents Haier T20 Cup from Tuesday.

The eight-team qualifying tournament at the Pindi Cricket Stadium saw Karachi Blues, as expected, joined the 10 teams for the main course but the shock semi-final defeat of Lahore Blues against Bahawalpur will definitely wake up the likes of fancied regional sides such as Sialkot, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi that there is no guarantee in T20 cricket in which even minnows have equal chance of winning on the given day.

In the last national competition at Karachi last September, Peshawar upset the applecart to become unexpected champions of the shortest format. Despite not having big names in the ranks, Peshawar proved that cohesive teamwork, under their astute head coach Abdul Rehman, is the real essence for success.




Bahawalpur join Rawalpindi, Karachi Whites, Sialkot, Hyderabad and Multan in Group ‘A’, while Karachi Blues have Islamabad, Lahore Whites, Faisalabad, Peshawar and Abbottabad for company at the league stage.

Just four regions have won the national T20 title with Sialkot lifting the trophy six times, Lahore thrice with Faisalabad and Peshawar winning once each.

Sialkot, winners of the Super-8 T20 Cup at Faisalabad a couple of months back, start as the favourites. Led by former Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik, the team boasts of several national side players in Haris Sohail, Mukhtar Ahmed, Nauman Anwar and Bilawal Bhatti.

Lahore Whites are set to dominate the tournament with a stat-studded line-up which includes skipper Azhar Ali, Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Akmal and Wahab Riaz.

Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq leads Faisalabad’s challenge yet again but their task is cut out with a weakened outfit.

Abbottabad have Younis Khan to inspire them as their leader and with the likes of Yasir Hameed, Yasir Shah and Junaid Khan representing their region they could be the surprise packet.

Rawalpindi, with home support to back them up, have a strong side on paper. Skipper Sohail Tanvir has the services of left-arm paceman Mohammad Amir and the experienced all-rounder Yasir Arafat to boost his team.

Kamran Akmal and Imran Farhat have both switched alliance from Lahore to skipper Multan this time. On paper they have a powerful line-up Sohaib Maqsood and Mohammad Irfan to inspire them under Kamran’s leadership.

Karachi Blues are another powerful side with Pakistan ODI and T20 vice-captain Sarfraz Ahmed likely to continue as captain with the appointed leader Shahid Afridi still to arrive here after missing the qualifying event.

Karachi Whites have discarded Test batsman Faisal Iqbal as skipper of a relatively young bunch of cricketers with all the big names doing duty for the Blues.

During the league round, five matches will be played. In Tuesday’s opening round, apart from televised games at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, two matches will be staged at the Marghazar Cricket Ground in Islamabad. From Wednesday the matches scheduled in the federal capital will take place at the Diamond Club Ground.

Both the Sept 14 semi-finals and the Sept 15 final will be played at the Pindi Cricket Stadium.

Schedule:

Group ‘A’: Rawalpindi, Karachi Whites, Sialkot, Hyderabad, Multan, Bahawalpur.

Group ‘B’: Islamabad, Lahore Whites, Faisalabad, Peshawar, Abbottabad, Karachi Blues.

Sept 8: Hyderabad vs Multan (Marghazar Cricket Ground, Islamabad, 10:00am); Karachi Whites vs Sialkot (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, 12:00noon); Abbottabad vs Karachi Blues (Marghazar Cricket Ground, Islamabad, 2:00pm); Islamabad vs Lahore Whites (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, 4:00pm); Rawalpindi vs Bahawalpur (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, 8:00pm).

Sept 9: Sialkot vs Hyderabad (Diamond Club Ground, Islamabad, 10:00am); Lahore Whites vs Abbottabad (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, 12:00noon); Karachi Whites vs Diamond Club Ground, Islamabad, 2:00pm); Faisalabad vs Peshawar (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, 4:00pm); Rawalpindi vs Multan (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, 8:00pm).

Sept 10: Faisalabad vs Karachi Blues (Diamond Club Ground, Islamabad, 10:00am); Hyderabad vs Bahawalpur (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, 12:00noon); Sialkot vs Multan (Diamond Club Ground, Islamabad); Islamabad vs Peshawar (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, 4:00pm); Rawalpindi vs Karachi Whites (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, 8:00pm).

Sept 11: Multan vs Bahawalpur (Diamond Club Ground, Islamabad, 10:00am); Faisalabad vs Abbottabad (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, 12:00noon); Karachi Whites vs Hyderabad (Diamond Club Ground, Islamabad, 2:00pm); Lahore Whites vs Peshawar (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, 4:00pm); Islamabad vs Karachi Blues (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, 8:00pm).

Sept 12: Lahore Whites vs Karachi Blues (Diamond Club Ground, Islamabad, 10:00am); Karachi Whites vs Multan (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, 12:00noon); Peshawar vs Abbottabad (Diamond Club Ground, Islamabad, 2:00pm); Islamabad vs Faisalabad (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, 4:00pm); Rawalpindi vs Sialkot (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, 8:00pm).

Sept 13: Islamabad vs Abbottabad (Diamond Club Ground, Islamabad, 10:00am); Peshawar vs Karachi Blues (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, 12:00noon); Sialkot vs Bahawalpur (Diamond Club Ground, Islamabad, 2:00pm); Lahore Whites vs Faisalabad (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, 4:00pm); Rawalpindi vs Hyderabad (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, 8:00pm).

Sept 14: First semi-final — Group ‘A’ winners vs Group ‘B’ runners-up (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, 4:00pm); Second semi-final — Group ‘B’ winners vs Group ‘A’ runners-up (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, 8:00pm).

Sept 15: FINAL (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, 7:00pm).

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2015

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