LAHORE: From white-ball cricket in Multan and Rawalpindi under the Covid-19 protocols, action now moves to Karachi where the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Pakistan’s premier first-class competition, commences on Sunday.
On Wednesday, head coaches of the six associations announced their squads, including all the top performers who will not be involved in the series against Zimbabwe, said a spokesman of the Pakistan Cricket Board.
Defending champions Central Punjab have received a major boost as their coach Shahid Anwar named top-order batsman Ahmed Shehzad and fast bowler Hasan Ali in the 16-player squad. The Azhar Ali-led side will go head to head against Sarfaraz Ahmed’s Sindh at the National Stadium from Oct 25.
Sindh coach Basit Ali has kept faith in 20-year-old left-arm pacer Ghulam Mudassar, picking him from the Second XI side to provide him a chance in the First XI National T20 Cup. Ghulam will join seasoned pace duo of Sohail Khan and Tabish Khan as Sindh aim to improve on their last year’s fifth position.
Balochistan head coach Faisal Iqbal has followed in the footsteps of Basit by providing 17-year-old Quetta-born batsman Abdul Wahid Bangalzai with an opportunity to showcase his talent in the game’s longer version. After an impressive performance in the Second XI National T20 Cup, Abdul Wahid was included in the First XI National T20 Cup.
Premier first-class event starts from Sunday
Balochistan, which finished at the bottom of the table last year, will be led by Yasir Shah, while Quetta-born wicketkeeper-batsman Bismillah Khan will be his deputy.
He said fast bowler Akif Javed has not been included in the squad as he is currently recovering from the knee injury he sustained during the National T20 Cup.
Abdul Razzaq has handed captaincy responsibilities of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa side to Ashfaq Ahmed, who was his side’s highest run-getter in the 2019 event with 805 runs at a healthy average of over 67. Adil Amin has been named as vice-captain in the side, which also include Imran Khan Sr, Junaid Khan, Sahibzada Farhan and Usman Khan Shinwari from the squad that lifted the National T20 Cup in Rawalpindi last weekend.
Northern, last year’s runners-up, will continue to be led by Nauman Ali, who was the highest wicket-taker in the edition with 54 scalps in 10 matches. Mohammad Wasim, Northern’s head coach, has named 23-year-old former Pakistan U-19 batsman Zeeshan Malik as his deputy.
Abdul Rehman has named a strong Southern Punjab side, which will be captained by Test opener Shan Masood. Salman Ali Agha, after leading Southern Punjab in the Second XI Quaid-e-Azam Trophy first round, has been named in the first-class squad as part of the selectors overarching policy and strategy of encouraging and rewarding high-performing players.
Fast bowler Rahat Ali is unavailable for the first three rounds of the tournament due to family commitments, said the spokesman.
Meanwhile, the six squads and their support staff will be undergoing Covid-19 tests in Karachi on Wednesday and Thursday, and all those with two negative results will enter a bio-secure bubble.
The teams will practise on Friday and Saturday at the three venues (National Stadium, UBL Sports Complex and NBP Sports Complex) in Karachi staging the opening round matches from Sunday.
BALOCHISTAN: Yasir Shah (captain), Bismillah Khan (vice-captain, wicket-keeper), Abdul Rehman Muzammil, Abdul Wahid Bangalzai, Adnan Akmal (wicket-keeper), Akhtar Shah, Amad Butt, Ayaz Tasawwar, Imran Butt, Imran Farhat, Kashif Bhatti, Khurram Shehzad, Najeebullah Achakzai, Sami Aslam, Taimur Ali, Taj Wali.
CENTRAL PUNJAB: Azhar Ali (captain), Saad Nasim (vice-captain), Ahmed Bashir, Ahmed Safi Abdullah, Ahmed Shehzad, Ali Shan, Bilal Asif, Ehsan Adil, Hasan Ali, Kamran Akmal (wicket-keeper), Mohammad Saad, Qasim Akram, Rizwan Hussain, Salman Butt, Usman Salahuddin, Waqas Maqsood.
KHYBER PAKHTUNKHWA: Ashfaq Ahmed (captain), Adil Amin (vice-captain), Ahmed Jamal, Imran Khan, Israrullah, Junaid Khan, Kamran Ghulam, Khalid Usman, Mohammad Mohsin, Nabi Gul, Rehan Afridi (wicket-keeper), Sahibzada Farhan, Sajid Khan, Sameen Gul, Samiullah, Usman Khan Shinwari.
NORTHERN: Nauman Ali (captain), Zeeshan Malik (vice-captain), Ali Sarfaraz, Asif Ali, Faizan Riaz, Farhan Shafiq, Hammad Azam, Jamal Anwar (wicket-keeper), Nasir Nawaz, Naved Malik, Sadaf Hussain, Salman Irshad, Sarmad Bhatti, Tauseeq Shah, Umar Amin, Waqas Ahmed.
SINDH: Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain, wicket-keeper), Asad Shafiq (vice-captain), Ashiq Ali, Azizullah, Fawad Alam, Ghulam Mudassar, Khurram Manzoor, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Asghar, Mohammad Hasan, Omair Bin Yousuf, Saad Ali, Saud Shakeel, Sharjeel Khan, Sohail Khan, Tabish Khan.
SOUTHERN PUNJAB: Shan Masood (captain), Hussain Talat (vice-captain), Aamir Yamin, Bilawal Bhatti, Dilbar Hussain, Imran Rafiq, Maqbool Ahmed (wicket-keeper), Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Ilyas, Mohammad Irfan (spinner), Saif Badar, Agha Salman, Umar Siddique, Umar Khan, Zahid Mahmood, Zeeshan Ashraf (wicket-keeper).
Published in Dawn, October 22nd, 2020