Faisalabad: With Pakistan’s three-match T20I series against Australia in early November and the player draft for the next year’s HBL Pakistan Super League after it, the upcoming National T20 Cup in Faisalabad throws opportunities to many up-and-coming cricketers to leave a mark.
Like it has been the case in the four-day first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, any performance in this year’s edition of the National T20 Cup, which runs from 13-24 October, is bound to gain attention as country’s top T20 cricketers will form squads of the six First XI cricket association sides.
The following are some players who have a chance to prove their mettle.
Adil Amin – Khyber Pakthunkhwa
The 28-year-old all-rounder has put up performances with both bat and ball in the first phase of the four-day Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.
He scored 211 runs at an average of 70.33 with three half-centuries in four innings and his right-arm off-break made him one of the four bowlers to have picked up a five-fer in the first four matches of the first-class tournament.
While he can contribute with the ball here and there, it is his ability to steer the innings in the middle overs which will make him a vital cog in a Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s playing XI with Fakhar Zaman and Sahibzada Farhan looking to come out all-guns blazing and Iftikhar Ahmed and Mohammad Rizwan aiming to pile up maximum runs in the death overs.
Adil turned out for FATA in the last edition of the National T20 Cup and scored 147 runs in six innings at a strike rate of 105.
Overall, he has 794 runs at a strike rate of 111. He has only one half-century across his 42-match T20 career, which he will be looking to change this tournament.
Nasim Shah – Central Punjab
If he gets named in a playing XI – which he is most likely to – it would be the 16-year-old’s maiden appearance in a T20 competition.
Despite the aforementioned fact, the opposition batsmen will be wary of the threat that this right-arm pacer poses with his searing pace.
Nasim, a product of the PCB’s U16 development programme, has been with Central Punjab as their First XI player in the first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy tournament and has nine wickets at an average of 26 in three matches – he did not really have to bowl in one of them as Northern’s both innings lasted for only 127 in his side’s second round fixture.
As a 15-year-old, Nasim was bagged by Quetta Gladiators for this year’s edition of the HBL Pakistan Super League, but an injury in his back ruled him out of the tournament. He, however, made a thumping return to competitive cricket by picking 12 scalps at 13.92 runs per dismissal for Pakistan U19 across five matches against South Africa.
His two outings in the recent ACC U19 Asia Cup bagged him four wickets at 16.25.
Ahsan Ali – Sindh
Promoted to the First XI side for the National T20 Cup, the right-handed batsman established himself as a brisk-scoring top-order batsman in the last edition of the HBL PSL.
Though the 25-year-old managed 178 runs at an average of 22.25, it was his impressive strike rate of over 130 across eight innings and his ability to cream bowlers down the ground which made Quetta Gladiators, the title winners, stick with him for most of the tournament.
Ahsan joins Sindh’s First XI after registering a century in his side’s Second XI match against Central Punjab in the most recent three-day Quaid-e-Azam Trophy tournament.
Haris Rauf – Northern
A google search of his name brings forward videos with the titles begging internet users to watch him send thunderbolts at daunting pace.
This right-arm fast-bowler left a lasting impression in the 2019 edition of the HBL PSL by snatching one of the rare wins for Lahore Qalandars that also against their arch-rivals Karachi Kings in a high-pressure situation.
He took 11 wickets in 10 matches and continued to thump his authority in domestic cricket by taking six wickets at an average of 35.16 in four Pakistan Cup matches in what was his first List ‘A’ tournament.
The ongoing season is Haris’ first. He has played two first-class games for Northern and has taken six wickets across three innings.
Haris was part of the a camp for emerging players at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore in the build-up to the season, and in his first proper domestic T20 tournament in Pakistan, he will be hoping to build on his reputation.
Aamer Yamin – Southern Punjab
The 29-year-old all-rounder has two T20Is next to his name. He picked up a wicket on the very first delivery he delivered in the format by trapping Jason Roy LBW in November 2015 and played his last match, to date, in January 2018
Aamer has been in scintillating form. His 142 and match figures of five for 57 played a crucial role to help Southern Punjab to their maiden first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy win earlier this week.
He has scored 291 runs at an average of 72.75 in the first-class tournament and his medium pace has brought crucial breakthroughs.
Aamer was a regular player for Karachi Kings in the last HBL PSL. Overall, he has 51 wickets in the T20 format and bowls at an economy of a shade above eight.
His batting figures (average of 17) are what need improvement. Considering the batting form he is in, one can count on that happening this tournament.
Amad Butt – Balochistan
With an average of just 19.10 in a career that spans 29 T20s, Amad Butt is the kind of fast-bowler which every captain wants in the final 10 overs of the opposition innings.
The right-arm pacer has taken 39 wickets to date and can also bat, which is underscored by five half-centuries in first-class cricket, the most recent coming in his side’s fixture against Southern Punjab.
The 24-year-old was in Islamabad United’s camp in the last HBL PSL season but got to bowl only eight overs in two matches. In those eight overs, however, he took four wickets at an average of 16.75.
In a young fast-bowling unit, under the guidance of Umar Gul, Amad promises to bridge the gap for Balochistan.