Tighten your seat-belts as one of the top domestic tournaments ‘Pakistan Cup’ is ready to lit up the stage at Pindi Cricket Stadium from April 2 where five teams will fight for 11 days to lift the coveted title on April 12.
Top-notch local players along with some young talented bunch will brace the event which ensures two weeks of exciting cricket.
Defending champions Federal Areas will be joined by the four provincial sides in the Pakistan Cup 2019 one-day tournament, which will be held at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, from 2-12 April.
The opening fixture will be between Punjab and Balochistan, which will be captained by wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal and middle-order batsman Asad Shafiq, respectively. Wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan-led Federal Areas will open their title defence on Wednesday, 3 April, against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which will be captained by left-handed opener Salman Butt. Sindh is the other side in the tournament, which will be led by former Test fast bowler Umar Gul.
The five sides for the 2019 tournament have been chosen by the national selection committee, which is headed by Inzamamul Haq. Players who have been playing regular and consistent cricket for the Pakistan cricket team has not been included as part of the selector’s policy of providing them sufficient rest prior to the tour of England, which will immediately be followed by the International Cricket Council (ICC) Cricket World Cup 2019.
The tournament carries a total prize money of PRK3.5 million with the winner collecting PKR2 million. The losing finalist will get PKR1 million, while player of the league matches will get PKR25,000 each.
The best batsman, bowler, all-rounder and player of the final will receive PKR100,000 each. The PCB, as part of its strategy to further give incentives in domestic cricket, has enhanced the match fee of each player from PKR33,000 to PKR 35,000.
1. Federal Areas
Defending champions Federal Areas will be led by Mohammad Rizwan who will be highly looking forward to his spot in the World Cup squad. The right-handed batsman after scoring two centuries against Australia is a strong candidate for the position of second wicket-keeper in the team’s squad for the upcoming mega event.
Ahmad Shahzad, who has shown his class in recently concluded Pakistan Super League (PSL) while representing Quetta Gladiators, is surely a strong prospect for the two-times champion Federal Areas. Sohaib Maqsood and Rameez Raja Jr will add depth in Federal Area’s batting. Left-arm pacer Rumman Raees, Waqas Maqsood, and Mohammad Nawaz will lead the bowling department of Rizwan and men.
Federal Areas bowling is spearheaded by Pakistan internationals Rumman Raees and Waqas Maqsood. Waqas was the leading wicket-taker in the Pakistan Cup 2018 with 14 wickets, including six for 63 against Balochistan.
Squad: Mohammad Rizwan (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Asad Afridi, Bilal Asif, Israrullah, Khurram Shehzad, Mohammad Nawaz, Nihal Mansoor, Rameez Raja, Sadaf Hussain, Sameen Gul, Saud Shakeel, Sohaib Maqsood, Waqas Maqsood, Zia-ul-Haq
Asad Shafiq will be leading Baluchistan from the front. He will be accompanied by mostly the players from Sindh including Fawad Alam who is a strong prospect in middle-order batting and knows how to release pressure in tough situations.
Balochistan are geared up for a big performance in the Pakistan Cup 2019 when the five teams converge to Rawalpindi for the tournament which commences at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on 2 April.
Captain Asad Shafiq was excited at the opportunity of leading the Balochistan side, and felt his team was well balanced and had a good combination for the 50-over format. For the 2019 edition, Balochistan have a solid batting line-up with the hugely experienced Asad set to be the guiding force. Asad, a veteran of 69 Tests, 60 ODIs and 10 T20Is, has amassed 4444 runs in 122 List A matches.
The middle-order also includes the left-handed Fawad Alam, who also has rich cricket experience, while another left-hander Awais Zia provides firepower at the top of the innings in his opener’s role.
Balochistan also have the explosive Umar Akmal in their batting ranks and Quetta-born wicket-keeper batsman Bismillah Khan would be hoping to build onto his success in the Pakistan Cup 2018 edition. The right-hander, representing Balochistan, scored 239 runs at 59.75 in four games at an impressive strike-rate of 120.70.
Balochistan also have an exciting bowling line-up, which includes HBL Pakistan Super League franchise Lahore Qalandar’s pace sensation Haris Rauf. Haris is expected to lead the pace attack, which also includes Mohammad Irfan Sr, Taj Wali and Ghulam Mudassar.
Squad: Asad Shafiq (captain), Ali Imran, Amad Butt, Awais Zia, Bismillah Khan, Fawad Alam, Ghulam Mudassar, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Irfan Sr, Qaiser Ashraf, Taj Wali, Umar Khan, Umar Akmal, Waqar Hussain, Zeeshan Ashraf
3. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will have the services of left-handed batsman Salman Butt as captain with not a strong batting line as apart from Abid Ali they mostly have young batsmen. Abid Ali, who had scored a century on his ODI debut, will put his all efforts to fulfill his dream to play the world’s biggest cricketing event.
Squad: Salman Butt (captain), Abid Ali, Adil Amin, Adnan Akmal, Faizan Riaz, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Irfan Jr, Mohammad Saad, Sohail Khan, Mohammad Musa Khan, Umaid Asif, Wahab Riaz, Zeeshan Malik, Zohaib Khan
Umar Gul-led Sindh are in high spirits and hope to re-write Pakistan Cup history when the five-team tournament gets underway at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, on 2 April. Sindh have never made it to the final in the past three editions. They finished third in 2016 and 2017, and fourth in 2018.
Newly-looked Sindh is all set to roar under Umar Gul and bowlers like Junaid Khan, Rahat Ali, Young Mohammad Hasnain and Mohammad Ilyas will add immense value to the bowling attack of Sindh. Husnain, who did debut during the ODI series against Australia, keeps the ability to deceive the batsmen with pace. Junaid’s experience will take all the bowlers on one page.
Squad: Umar Gul (captain), Ahsan Ali, Aamir Yamin, Ashiq Ali, Asif Ali; Hammad Azam, Imran Rafiq, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Hasan, Mohammad Ilyas, Nauman Ali, Rahat Ali, Sahibzada Farhan, Umar Amin, Umar Siddique.
Punjab are searching for their maiden Pakistan Cup title. Their best performance to date was in the inaugural edition in 2016 when they reached the final. They failed to finish in the top two in the 2017 and 2018 editions.
Kamran observed Punjab had an explosive batting line-up that could provide a stiff challenge to the opposition bowling attacks.
Punjab looks probably one of the toughest sides in this year’s Pakistan Cup as it contains batsmen like Kamran Akmal, Khurram Manzoor, and Iftikhar Ahmed. Khurram, who was the highest run-scorer of last season of the tournament.
Other than Kamran, Punjab have Sami Aslam and Khurram providing real firepower at the top of the batting order. Hussain, Fahad Iqbal and Saad Ali form the middle-order, Saad and Hussain would be aiming to impress the selectors especially with the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 Pakistan team selection due after the Pakistan Cup. For this event, the selectors have the option of including a few more players if they feel necessary before revealing the World Cup squad.
Punjab have a formidable bowling department that covers almost all the bases for skipper Kamran. Mohammad Sami, Sohail Tanveer, Bilawal and Ehsan have the ability to unsettle any batting line-up while Asghar and Kashif provide capable spin bowling options.
Squad: Kamran Akmal (captain), Bilawal Bhatti, Ehsan Adil, Fahad Iqbal, Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed, Kashif Bhatti, Khurram Manzoor, Mohammad Asghar, Mohammad Sami, Ramiz Aziz, Saad Ali, Sami Aslam, Sohail Tanvir, Waleed Ahmed
Pakistan: PTV Sports
All the matches will be day/night and will be televised live by PTV Sports.
(All the matches will start at 2:00pm PST)
April 2: Punjab vs Balochistan
April 3: Federal Areas vs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
April 4: Balochistan vs Sindh
April 5: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa vs Punjab
April 6: Sindh vs Federal Areas
April 7: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa vs Balochistan
April 8: Punjab vs Federal Areas
April 9: Sindh vs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
April 10: Federal Areas vs Balochistan
April 11: Punjab vs Sindh
April 12: Final