KARACHI: This year’s National T20 Cup has already lost its sheen even before the first ball is delivered at the Multan Cricket Stadium on Monday when the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad clash in the opening fixture at 11:00am.

The top stars are busy elsewhere with the senior Pakistan side heading off to South Africa later this week while the junior strings will be busy this week in Sri Lankan capital of Colombo where the knockout fixtures of the ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup take place.

Lahore Blues are the defending champions after defeating the city’s Whites team in the final last November in Rawalpindi. Interestingly, day one’s other match is between these two sides.

At the time of writing the media have been kept in the dark regarding the official announcement of the eight squads competing in the tournament. According to sources, teams have been drastically altered as far as playing members are concerned since the player draft took place sometime back.

Despite several attempts to get the final list of teams, the PCB were unwilling to cooperate while the man responsible for providing the official squads to the media was preoccupied with several ‘official tasks’ in Karachi where the Quaid-i-Azam Trophy National Cricket Championship final was played from Dec 4-8 while almost concurrently the Emerging Teams event was also being staged.

When contacted on Sunday a PCB official curtly told Dawn on the condition of anonymity that the squads will be provided to the media not before Monday because Saqib Irfan, a senior domestic cricket official of the board, had the team information in a file stacked up somewhere in the board headquarters at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore.

This clearly explains how unprofessional is the PCB’s approach when it comes to staging a national tournament. This is not the end of the matter because sources further revealed that the marketing department of the board has virtually stormed the Multan Cricket Stadium’s building which has decent space for the media.

Now instead of having several rooms, the PCB media department has been allotted just two rooms to accommodate the working journalists for the duration of the upcoming event which runs from Dec 10 to Dec 25.

Schedule:

Dec 10: Rawalpindi vs Islamabad (11:00am); Lahore Whites vs Lahore Blues (3:00pm).

Dec 11: Peshawar vs Fata (11:00am); Multan vs Karachi Whites (3:00pm).

Dec 12: Lahore Blues vs Rawalpindi (11:00am); Lahore Whites vs Islamabad (3:00pm).

Dec 13: Karachi Whites vs Fata (11:00am); Multan vs Peshawar (3:00pm).

Dec 14: Lahore Whites vs Rawalpindi (9:30am); Lahore Blues vs Islamabad (3:00pm).

Dec 15: Multan vs Fata (11:00); Karachi Whites vs Peshawar (3:00pm).

Dec 16: Karachi Whites vs Lahore Whites (11:00am); Multan vs Lahore Blues (3:00pm).

Dec 17: Peshawar vs Islamabad (11:00am); Rawalpindi vs Fata (3:00pm).

Dec 18: Multan vs Lahore Whites (11:00am); Karachi Whites vs Lahore Blues (3:00pm).

Dec 19: Islamabad vs Fata (11:30am); Rawalpindi vs Peshawar (3:00pm).

Dec 20: Lahore Whites vs Peshawar (11:00am); Lahore Blues vs Fata (3:00pm).

Dec 21: Karachi Whites vs Islamabad (9:30am); Multan vs Rawalpindi (3:00pm).

Dec 22: Lahore Blues vs Peshawar (11:00am); Lahore Whites vs Fata (3:00pm).

Dec 23: Karachi Whites vs Rawalpindi (11:00am); Multan vs Islamabad (3:00pm).

Dec 24: First semi-final — No.1 vs No.3 (11:00am); Second semi-final — No 2 vs No.4 (3:00pm).

Dec 25: Final (3:00pm).

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2018

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