KARACHI: Departmental giants HBL and SSGC will clash in the final of the National One Day Cup for Department at the National Stadium of Karachi on Monday.
The sides had stuttered in the early stages of the tournament, gaining momentum later on to finish third and fourth, and scrape through to the semi-finals.
However, their good form saw them win their semis in emphatic, albeit different, manner. Now the two sides, filled to the brim with household names and in-form stars, will try to outdo each other in order to get their hands on the silverware.
SSGC boast Pakistan international Shoaib Malik and the perpetually in-form Fawad Alam, as well as a supporting cast that includes Asif Zakir, Zafar Gohar and Ziaul Haq.
“Our boys did pretty well in the league matches and then managed to win the semi-final against a WAPDA team that has some really big names,” SSGC’s head coach Atiquz Zaman told The Express Tribune. “We are still trying to address our weaknesses but are confident of winning the final.”
HBL skipper Ahmad Shahzad produced a mammoth match-winning century in the semi-final and is currently the tournament’s top-scorer. “Shahzad is in fine form but our spinner Muhammad Irfan got him out in the league match as well and we won by a huge margin of 70,” he said.
He added that the team analyst has pointed out Shahzad’s weak areas. “Former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi is also expected to play the final but we are confident that our young bowlers and Shoaib Malik can win us the game,” he said. “It will be match to watch.”
Meanwhile, HBL who not only have Afridi and Shahzad in their ranks but also the tournament’s top wicket-taker Fahim Ashraf and rising stars Imamul Haq and Fakhar Zaman.
HBL coach Kabir Khan said most of his players may be young but they play like a team. “We have a very young side but it has gelled well and that is important,” he said. “Shahzad has led the team out of difficult situations and Afridi’s return will surely help the team more.”
Kabir believes some of the players on display represent the future of Pakistan. “We have youngsters who have played for Pakistan A and are surely part of the crop for the future," said the former left-arm pacer. "SSGC are also a young team but we are confident that it won’t be easy for them in the final.”
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