KARACHI: After an action-packed National T20 Cup, the focus shifts to Karachi as it gears up to host the first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy from 25th October (tomorrow).
The first three rounds will be played across three venues – National Stadium, NBP Sports Complex and UBL Sports Complex – before the tournament takes an 11-day break during for remaining matches of the Pakistan Super League 2020, which were postponed COVID-19 outbreak. Besides the three venues, State Bank Stadium will also host six matches of the 31-match tournament.
The six team captains were taken to a photoshoot on Saturday with the prestigious tournament trophy at the mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam Mausoleum. The first three rounds serve as an audition for the first-class cricketers to stake a claim on the back of impressive performances ahead of the New Zealand tour.
More than Rs17 million are up for grabs over the course of the tournament with the winning prize money Rs 10 million and the runner-up bagging Rs 5 million. The top-performers – player of the tournament, best batsman, best bowler and best wicketkeeper – will pocket Rs 500,000 each. The player of the final will be awarded Rs 50,000.
Six Cricket Associations begin their Quaid-e-Azam Trophy campaign from Sunday
— PCB Media (@TheRealPCBMedia) October 24, 2020
Defending champions Central Punjab will begin their campaign from the National Stadium as they take on hosts Sindh. The PCB will broadcast and stream eleven matches, including the five-day final, from the National Stadium.
Azhar Ali will take charge of the defending champions Central Punjab side, which includes seasoned wicketkeeper-batsman Kamran Akmal, who finished as the second-highest run scorer in the last edition with 906 runs.
The team includes Test off-spinner Bilal Asif, who finished as the second highest wicket-taker in the 2019-20 edition with 43 wickets from nine matches. Ahmed Shehzad, who captained Central Punjab last year, and pacer Hasan Ali are also part of the team. After Salman Butt withdrew himself, Ali Zaryab has been promoted to Central Punjab’s team.
Former Test captain Sarfaraz Ahmed is eager to ensure that his team lives up to its potential as they were one of the two teams, other than Balochistan, who failed to register a win last season.
They will be banking on Fawad Alam, who was Sindh’s best batsman last year with 781 runs (four centuries and two half-centuries) to provide stability to their batting order. This includes Test batsman Asad Shafiq and youngsters Saud Shakeel and Omair Bin Yousaf.
Tabish Khan will spearhead Sindh’s bowling attack in which Mohammad Asghar will lead the spin department. The left-arm orthodox had the fourth most wickets with 27 scalps in eight matches for Balochistan last year.
Tabish took 25 wickets in the previous season, while Sohail Khan is not available for the opening clash due to a throat infection but is expected to join the team in the later rounds.