By Sohail Ali
LAHORE, Sept 20 (APP):It will be Babar Azam versus Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Rizwan versus Shadab Khan, Sharjeel Khan versus Naseem Shah, Fakhar Zaman versus Shahnawaz Dahani and Hasan Ali versus Imam-ul-Haq after the Pakistan Cricket Board announced the schedule and squads for the National T20 2021-22, which will be held from 23 September and 13 October.
The 18 Rawalpindi-leg matches, which were earlier planned for Multan, will now be played at the Pindi Cricket Stadium till 3 October, while Gaddafi Stadium will remain the venue of the remaining 15 matches that will commence on 6 October.
Both semi-finals will be played on 12 October with the first match to commence at 1500 and second match to begin at 1930. The first ball in the final will be bowled at 1930.
The National T20 is a fiercely-contested and highly entertaining tournament. It not only provides opportunities to cricketers to stake claims in the national side, but leading performers get a chance to be included in the HBL PSL Player Draft and then picked up by the franchises.
The event starting later this week has become even more important and critical as members of the Pakistan squad for next month’s ICC T20 World Cup will be in action. With each player to get, at least, 10 matches, they will aim to strike form and fitness that can help them be in their best shape when they arrive in the United Arab Emirates on 15 October.
PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja said on Monday : “Following the postponement of the New Zealand series, the National T20 provides an opportunity to our elite cricketers to maintain their focus and composure, show the world that they have not been distracted by the events of last week and continue with their preparations for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup.
“The participation of our finest cricketers in the National T20 will also enhance the reputation, value and significance of the tournament, while providing the next generation of cricketers a chance to rub shoulders with the national stars and learn the art of preparing and performing at the highest level.
“With your enthusiasm, wishes and backing, Pakistan cricket will continue to move forward. Pakistan Zindabad!”Pakistan wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan will lead defending champions Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, runners-up Southern Punjab will be captained by hard-hitting top-order batter Sohaib Maqsood.
Babar Azam, Pakistan’s all-format captain and second ranked T20I batsman, will captain Central Punjab and Pakistan’s ODI opener Imam-ul-Haq will lead Balochistan. Sindh have kept faith in former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, while Pakistan white-ball vice-captain Shadab Khan will be in-charge of Northern.
Apart from Babar, Rizwan, Shadab and Sohaib, other members of the ICC T20 World Cup squad to feature in the 33-match National T20 are Azam Khan, Khushdil Shah (both Southern Punjab), Hasan Ali, Mohammad Hafeez (both Central Punjab), Imad Wasim (Northern), Mohammad Hasnain (Sindh), Asif Ali, Haris Rauf, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Nawaz (all Northern) and, Mohammad Wasim Jnr and Shaheen Shah Afridi
(both Khyber Pakhtunkhwa).
Fakhar Zaman (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa), Shahnawaz Dahani (Sindh) and Usman Qadir (Central Punjab) will also be in action. They have been named as the traveling reserves.
In the Balochistan’s squad, Mohammad Ibrahim Snr has replaced Awais Zia, who withdrew from the National T20.
National T20 (Matches from 23 Sep-3 Oct at the Pindi Cricket Stadium; matches from 6-13 Oct at the Gaddafi Stadium. First match to start at 1500, second match to begin at 1930)
23 Sep – Balochistan-Northern; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa-Central Punjab
24 Sep – Sindh-Southern Punjab; Balochistan-Central Punjab
25 Sep – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa-Southern Punjab; Sindh-Northern
26 Sep – Balochistan-Southern Punjab; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa-Central Punjab
29-Sep – Sindh-Balochistan; Northern-Southern Punjab
30 Sep – Northern-Central Punjab; Sindh-Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
1 Oct – Balochistan-Southern Punjab; Northern-Sindh
2 Oct – Balochistan-Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; Sindh-Central Punjab
3 Oct – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa-Northern; Southern Punjab- Central Punjab
6 Oct – Central Punjab-Sindh; Balochistan-Northern
7 Oct – Central Punjab-Southern Punjab; Balochistan-Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
8 Oct – Central Punjab-Northern; Southern Punjab-Sindh
9 Oct – Sindh-Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; Northern-Southern Punjab
10 Oct – Southern Punjab-Khyber Pakhtunkhwa; Balochistan-Central Punjab
11 Oct – Sindh-Balochistan; Northern-Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
12 Oct – No.1 vs No.4 Team; No.2 Team vs No.3 Team
13 Oct – Final
Squads in alphabetical order:
Balochistan – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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 (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.