KARACHI, March 1: The forthcoming Faysal Bank National One-day Cup will deliver a piece of history when the newly-built Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto International Cricket Stadium in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh joins the mainstream of Pakistan’s domestic cricket.

Named after the slain ex-prime minister, the new venue near Naudero was officially inaugurated on Dec 26 last year by President Asif Ali Zardari. The Pakistan Cricket Board-owned stadium will stage four preliminary-round fixtures involving Group ‘A’ teams.

The competition, which begins from Tuesday, unlike the past couple of seasons when departments also competed in the same event, is confined only to the 14 regional outfits – who competed in the just-concluded Quaid-i-Azam Trophy National Cricket Championship – who have been placed in two pools of seven teams with Karachi and Lahore fielding two sides as usual.

The top two sides from each group will qualify for the knockout stage which, for the first time, will be held at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi. The first semi-final is slated to be played on March 20 with the other semi-final scheduled for March 21, while the final takes place on Pakistan Day (March 23).

According to the draws released by the PCB, Group ‘A’ includes Karachi Dolphins, Lahore Eagles, Sialkot Stallions, Hyderabad Hawks, Multan Tigers, Quetta Bears and Bahawalpur Stags, while Group ‘B’ is made up of Lahore Lions, Karachi Zebras, Rawalpindi Rams, Faisalabad Wolves, Islamabad Leopards, Peshawar Panthers and Abbottabad Falcons.

As has been the routine in the past several seasons and because of crammed international schedules, the One-day Cup again will be bereft of quality since a majority of the Pakistan players are forced to skip the tournament simply because it runs simultaneously with the limited-overs series in South Africa. After the two Twenty20 Internationals, South Africa host Pakistan in a five-match One-day International series from March 10 to March 24.

Therefore, the likes of crowd-pullers such as Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Kamran and Umar Akmal, Saeed Ajmal, Umar Gul etc won’t be seen in action during the 19-day competition.

Group ‘A’: Karachi Dolphins, Lahore Eagles, Sialkot Stallions, Multan Tigers, Bahawalpur Stags, Hyderabad Hawks, Quetta Bears.

Group ‘B: Lahore Lions, Karachi Zebras, Rawalpindi Rams, Islamabad Leopards, Faisalabad Wolves, Peshawar Panthers, Abbottabad Falcons.

Matches schedule:

March 5: Karachi Dolphins v Lahore Eagles (Niaz Stadium, Hyderabad); Hyderabad Hawks v Quetta Bears (Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto International Stadium, Garhi Khuda Bakhsh); Multan Tigers v Bahawalpur Stags (Multan Cricket Stadium, Multan); Islamabad Leopards v Rawalpindi Rams (Diamond Club Ground, Islamabad); Peshawar Panthers v Abbottabad Falcons (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi); Lahore Lions v Karachi Zebras (Mirpur Cricket Stadium, Mirpur).

March 7: Lahore Eagles v Sialkot Stallions (National Stadium, Karachi); Quetta Bears v Multan Tigers (Niaz Stadium, Hyderabad); Hyderabad Hawks v Karachi Dolphins (Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto International Stadium, Garhi Khuda Bakhsh); Rawalpindi Rams v Lahore Lions (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi); Faisalabad Wolves v Peshawar Panthers (Diamond Club Ground, Islamabad); Islamabad Leopards v Karachi Zebras (Mirpur Cricket Stadium, Mirpur).

March 9: Bahawalpur Stags v Quetta Bears (National Stadium, Karachi); Hyderabad Hawks v Lahore Eagles (Niaz Stadium, Hyderabad); Sialkot Stallions v Multan Tigers (Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto International Stadium, Garhi Khuda Bakhsh); Lahore Lions v Peshawar Panthers (Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore); Karachi Zebras v Faisalabad Wolves (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi); Islamabad Leopards v Abbottabad Falcons (Diamond Club Ground, Islamabad).

March 11: Karachi Dolphins v Sialkot Stallions (National Stadium, Karachi); Lahore Eagles v Quetta Bears (NBP Sports Complex, Karachi); Hyderabad Hawks v Bahawalpur Stags (Niaz Stadium, Hyderabad); Lahore Lions v Faisalabad Wolves (Gaddafi Stadium, Lahore); Karachi Zebras v Peshawar Panthers (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi); Rawalpindi Rams v Abbottabad Falcons (Mirpur Cricket Stadium, Mirpur).

March 13: Karachi Dolphins v Quetta Bears (NBP Sports Complex, Karachi); Sialkot Stallions v Quetta Bears (National Stadium, Karachi); Hyderabad Hawks v Multan Tigers (Niaz Stadium, Hyderabad); Rawalpindi Rams v Karachi Zebras (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi); Islamabad Leopards v Lahore Lions (Diamond Club Ground, Islamabad); Abbottabad Falcons v Faisalabad Wolves (Mirpur Cricket Stadium, Mirpur).

March 15: Karachi Dolphins v Quetta Bears (National Stadium, Karachi); Bahawalpur Stags v Sialkot Stallions (Niaz Stadium, Hyderabad); Multan Tigers v Lahore Eagles (Multan Cricket Stadium, Multan); Karachi Zebras v Abbottabad Falcons (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi); Islamabad Leopards v Peshawar Panthers (Diamond Club Ground, Islamabad); Rawalpindi Rams v Faisalabad Wolves (Mirpur Cricket Stadium, Mirpur).

March 17: Hyderabad Hawks v Sialkot Stallions (Niaz Stadium, Hyderabad); Lahore Eagles v Bahawalpur Stags (Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto International Stadium, Garhi Khuda Bakhsh); Multan Tigers v Karachi Dolphins (Multan Cricket Stadium, Multan); Islamabad Leopards v Faisalabad Wolves (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi); Rawalpindi Rams v Peshawar Panthers (Diamond Club Ground, Islamabad); Abbottabad Falcons v Lahore Lions (Mirpur Cricket Stadium, Mirpur).

March 20: First semi-final – Group ‘A’ winners v Group ‘B’ runners-up (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi).

March 21: Second semi-final – Group ‘B’ winners v Group ‘A’ runners-up (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi).

March 23: Final (Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi).


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