KARACHI: Former chief selector Haroon Rasheed believes the domestic 50-over tournament, Pakistan Cup, will provide aspiring youngsters with an opportunity to showcase their skills for a chance to make it to the national team.
The 11-match tournaments starts today with five teams participating in it: Islamabad, Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
The tournament, which will end a marquee final on April 29 in Rawalpindi, is featuring household names such as Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Sohail Khan, Umar Akmal, Salman Butt, Fawad Alam, Umar Gul, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Rizwan and Sohaib Maqsood.
The first match of the tournament pits Balochistan and Punjab against each other and Rasheed thinks all youngsters should make use of the chance to perform well against senior and more experienced players.
“One-day cricket is not happening so much in Pakistan at the moment,” Rasheed told The Express Tribune. “The frequency of the 50-over game should be increased and more players from our national team should participate in it alongside the youngsters. When the young players play against senior players, they gain more experience and learn a lot.”
The 64-year-old said more one-day cricket in the domestic circuit will help players to improve their strike rates, which is a dilemma Pakistan faces at the national level.
“Mickey Arthur has been saying that he wants Pakistan to play modern cricket,” he said. “These tournaments allow all players to perform in home conditions and gain confidence by improving their strike rates, which will eventually help us at the national level. You have the example of Kamran Akmal and Ahmad Shahzad who performed in the domestic circuit and made their way back into the national squad.”
‘Need to identify power-hitters’
Pakistan have been lacking the services of power-hitters who can clear boundaries when needed and Rasheed thinks the tournament is a great way to find such batsmen.
“Selectors must have made a time table to visit the stadium during the tournament,” he said. “The first thing that they need to do is identify power-hitters. The national team needs players who can clear the field with ease. The quality of cricket has improved since T20 format gained popularity. Players can now play with strike rates of over 100 in every format. Thus, the need of the hour is to identify batsmen who can do that for Pakistan. We’ll need such players in the coming years.”
Comparison with PSL
Players like Shadab Khan and Usman Khan Shinwari were identified through the second edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), and while Rasheed approves the fact that the T20 event is bigger brand than the 50-over Cup, he still deems the telecasting of the matches of the tournament a good move.
“There is no comparison between PSL and this tournament [Pakistan Cup]; PSL is a big brand since it has a lot of foreign players involved in it too,” explained Rasheed. “However, it is a good move by the Pakistan Cricket Board that they are telecasting all the matches live. This will help create more interest among cricket-watching audience. Also, it will help cricket aspirants to see their favourite stars play live.”