Following the completion of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, which produced high-quality red-ball action, the focus has now shifted to white-ball cricket as the Pakistan Cup commences on 8 January.
The 33-match tournament, to be played on double-league basis, will be staged at three Karachi venues, NBP Sports Complex, State Bank Stadium and UBL Sports Complex. State Bank Stadium will host the two semi-finals on 29 and 30 January and the final on 31 January.
Continuing its policy of providing easy access to fans to ball-by-ball live domestic cricket action, the Pakistan Cricket Board will broadcast 13 matches, 10 group and 3 knockout fixtures, from the State Bank Stadium.
PTV Sports will telecast these fixtures live in Pakistan, while the PCB’s YouTube channel will relay delayed stream all across the globe. When Pakistan men’s national team play South Africa in the first Test at Rawalpindi from 26 January, the action will move to PTV National.
The tournament carries nearly Rs. 10 million in prize money as the PCB continues to offer incentives to top-performers. The tournament winners will bag Rs. 5 million, while the runners-up will pocket Rs. 2.5 million.
The best performers of the tournament, including Player of the Tournament, Best Batsman, Best Bowler and Best Wicketkeeper, will equally share Rs. 1 million amongst them and Rs. 800,000 will be handed to 32 players who receive Man of the Match award in group matches and semi-finals. The Player of the Final will receive Rs. 35,000.
Meanwhile, the six head coaches have finalized their 16-player squads, in which opportunities have been provided to those young cricketers who have given impressive performances over the course of the 2020-21 domestic season.
After helping his team stage an outstanding comeback in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Hasan Ali will continue to lead Central Punjab, who shared the title with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after the final ended in an epic tie. The squad consists all 11 players who played the final along with Ahmed Bashir, Bilal Asif, Rizwan Hussain, Sohaibullah and Tayyab Tahir.
Khalid Usman will remain at helm of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa team and will have hard-hitting top-order batsman, Fakhar Zaman, the leading run-scorer in the National T20 Cup, as his deputy. Head coach Abdul Razzaq has retained the in-form batsman Kamran Ghulam and Sajid Ali, the leading run-scorer and wicket-taker of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.
Balochistan will be led by the veteran batsman, Imran Farhat, and he will have wicketkeeper-batsman, Bismillah Khan, as his vice-captain. Head coach Faisal Iqbal has put his faith in 18-year-old Quetta-born Abdul Wahid Bangalzai, a Pakistan U19 player, who has had an impressive 2020-21 domestic season. In his most recent outing for his Balochistan, Abdul Wahid was the fourth highest run-getter in the Pakistan Cup for Second XIs with 187 runs in five matches including a half-century at 37.40.
Mohammad Masroor, Northern’s interim head coach, has named all-rounder Mohammad Nawaz as the captain of his team. After enjoying resounding success with both bat and ball in the 2020-21 domestic season, which included a century on first-class debut and player of the tournament awards in both one-day and three-day U19 tournaments, Mubasir Khan is in line to make his List A debut as he was named one of the 16 players in the Northern squad.
After finishing the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy at the bottom, Sindh will be eager to stage a comeback. Head coach Basit Ali has named Saud Shakeel the captain of the side. Sixteen-year-old off-spinner Aaliyan Mehmood has been rewarded for his sensational returns in the one-day and three-day U19 tournaments. Aaliyan was the third best bowler in the both tournaments taking 24 wickets 15.67 in one-day and 20 scalps at 25.55 in three-day.
Middle-order batsman, Sohaib Maqsood, will lead Southern Punjab, the finalists of the National T20 Cup. Southern Punjab’s leading run-scorer in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, in which they finished third, Salman Ali Agha will be Sohaib’s deputy. Their fast bowling department got a shot in the arm following the addition of Aaron Summers, while they have included Mukhtar Ahmed and Waqar Hussain, the top two run-getters of the Pakistan Cup for Second XI teams, who played a vital role in Southern Punjab winning that tournament.
Balochistan – Imran Farhat (c), Bismillah Khan (vc), Abdul Wahid Bangalzai, Adnan Akmal, Akbar-ur-Rehman, Ali Rafiq, Awais Zia, Ayaz Tasawar, Gohar Faiz, Jalat Khan, Kashif Bhatti, Nazar Hussain, Raza-ul-Hasan, Taimoor Ali, Taj Wali and Umaid Asif
Central Punjab – Hasan Ali (c), Ahmed Bashir, Ahmed Safi Abdullah, Ali Shan (wk), Ali Zaryab, Bilal Asif, Bilawal Iqbal, Muhammad Akhlaq, Mohammad Saad, Qasim Akram, Rizwan Hussain, Saad Nasim, Sohaibullah, Tayyab Tahir, Usman Salahuddin and Waqas Maqsood
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – Khalid Usman (c), Fakhar Zaman (vc), Adil Amin, Arshad Iqbal, Asif Afridi, Imran Khan Snr, Irfanullah Shah, Israrullah, Kamran Ghulam, Mohammad Mohsin, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Musadiq Ahmed, Rehan Afridi (wk), Sahibzada Farhan, Sajid Khan and Usman Shinwari
Northern – Mohammad Nawaz (c), Aamer Jamal, Ali Imran, Asif Ali, Athar Mehmood, Faizan Riaz, Hammad Azam, Jamal Anwar, Mubasir Khan, Muhammad Ismail, Nasir Nawaz, Nauman Ali, Salman Irshad, Sohail Tanvir, Taimoor Sultan and Umar Amin
Sindh – Saud Shakeel (c), Aaliyan Mahmood, Abrar Ahmed, Anwar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Ghulam Mudassar, Hassan Khan, Khurram Manzoor, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Asghar, Mohammad Azam Khan, Mohammad Umar, Omair Bin Yousaf, Saad Ali, Shahnawaz Dhani and Sharjeel Khan
Southern Punjab – Sohaib Maqsood (c), Salman Ali Agha (vc), Aamer Yamin, Aaron Summers, Ali Shafiq, Mohammad Ilyas, Muhammad Imran, Mukhtar Ahmed, Rahat Ali, Saif Badar, Umar Khan, Umar Siddiq Khan, Waqar Hussain, Zahid Mahmood, Zain Abbas and Zeeshan Ashraf