KARACHI: It may not be an international tournament but fans will have ample of action to look forward to as the Super Eight T20 Cup gets underway at the Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad today.
While T20 specialists like former captain Shahid Afridi and all-rounder Abdul Razzaq will miss the event, owing to county commitments, the tournament still offers much excitement with the presence of Misbahul Haq, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Yousuf, Kamran Akmal and Imran Nazir, besides other stars.
Eight teams, placed in two groups of four, will fight for T20 glory in the tournament that finishes on July 1.
‘Thrill for sure’
A senior national team player promised an action-packed eight days of cricket.
“It’s going to be an exciting tournament,” the player told The Express Tribune.
“All our previous tournaments in this format have been successful. With the reduction in the number of teams, it’s going to become even more competitive.”
Golden opportunity for us, says Ghumman
Meanwhile, the tournament also serves as a platform for the youngsters knocking on the doors of the selectors.
Chief selector Mohsin Khan had termed the event as an important one for the players and added that a pool of specialists will be formed for next year’s World Twenty20 — and players are well aware of his statements.
“I’m taking the event as a chance to prove my worth,” Azeem Ghumman, who will be leading the Hyderabad Hawks, told The Express Tribune.
“My target is to prove myself in all the three formats,” said the upcoming middle-order batsman before terming the tournament as a golden opportunity for players to show their mettle.
PCB to leave no stone unturned for success
While players eye national team selection, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is also taking it as a chance to send a positive message to the outside world.
“We’ve made the best arrangements possible,” said PCB spokesman Nadeem Sarwar.
“As far as security is concerned, we are in constant touch with law-enforcement agencies to ensure everything runs smoothly.”
Pakistan are yet to host an international series since March 2009 when a gun attack on the Sri Lanka team brought the tour to a premature end and, the PCB official believed, a successful tournament like this can improve the situation.
“The event is also a feast for avid cricket fans, who are being deprived of international cricket on our home soil,” added Sarwar.
The event, featuring eight teams, will see Lahore Lions, Sialkot Stallions, Hyderabad Hawks and Islamabad Leopards fight for top place from Group A.
Karachi Dolphins, Rawalpindi Rams, Faisalabad Wolves and Multan Tigers form Group B with the top team from each pool playing in the semi-finals.
Wolves take on Tigers in the inaugural match while Dolphins lock horns with Rams in the other match of the opening day.
Education Programme in action
The PCB Education and Training Programme, which is run by former Test cricketer Wasim Bari, will also be seen in action during the Super Eight T20 Cup.
The players will be given a refresher course under the programme, which was initiated on instructions by the International Cricket Council in aftermaths of spot-fixing scandal last year that saw three Pakistan players - Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir - being banned from all cricketing activity for at least five years.
“We will address the players on the awareness programme,” said Bari.
Under the programme, the PCB distributed an instruction manual in April and the former Test cricketer said that it was about time to test how much the players had learnt from it.
“We’ll continue to monitor the players during the tournament to see how much they obey the rules of the dressing room, mentioned in the manual.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2011.
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