National Stadium Karachi will see floodlit action once again when the Faysal Bank National Twenty20 Cup, featuring top national cricketers, comes into action from noon today.
A total of 14 teams, including the Afghan Cheetas, start their hunt for the trophy with the curators and organisers promising high-scoring action courtesy freshly laid pitches and lush outfield due to the recent rains.
Apart from the on-field show, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), the Sindh government and the players will take part in fund-raising for the flood-affected people of Sindh.
The event, shifted from Lahore to Karachi due to the dengue outbreak in the Punjab capital, will now have ticketed entry with proceeds going towards the fundraising.
Rams eye another title
The Rawalpindi Rams, which won the Super Eight T20 Cup earlier this year, is vowing to give another title-winning performance.
“We are highly motivated,” Rawalpindi captain Sohail Tanveer told The Express Tribune. “We are looking for another title and all our players are confident. Our fans have a lot of expectations from us and we will give our best.”
The Pakistan all-rounder said his recent return to international cricket will also give his local side a benefit.
Sialkot bid to retain lost status
The Sialkot Stallions, led by Shoaib Malik, won the first three T20 titles and hold the record for consecutive wins in Twenty20 history, is focusing on returning to winning ways. “We are at full strength now,” said seasoned all-rounder Rana Navedul Hasan. “We played with depleted sides in the last few tournaments but now our main players have returned. I am very hopeful that we will regain the title.”
Afridi aims to spur hosts
Meanwhile, hosts Karachi have two teams in the event, Zebras and Dolphins.
The former will be lead by out-of-favour Danish Kaneria while Dolphins will be led by retired all-rounder Shahid Afridi.
“I am aiming to play a leading role for my team,” said Afridi.
“My focus now is on the tournament and hopefully we will do well.”
Meanwhile, Kaneria has stressed for the nation to take part in fund-raising activities besides enjoying the action.
“I request the fans to come in huge numbers and contribute whatever they can,” said the leg-spinner.
Security as per ICC standard
Keeping in mind the volatile security situation in the city, the organisers have arranged for high-level security as per the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) defined standards.
“The Sindh government will provide top-level security,” said PCB Director Education Wasim Bari, who is also a member of the organising committee.
‘Relief bike’ on a mission for flood victims
A bike carrying eight people will also be doing rounds during the tournament attempting to raise funds at various locations in the city.
“It’s a relief bike,” said Advisor to Sindh Chief Minister on Sports Haleem Adil Sheikh.
“Cricketers will visit different areas to create awareness and raise funds.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2011.
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