Friday Sep 25, 2020
With the start of the 2020 National T20 Cup less than a week away, some of the leading cricket analysts have made known which of the six sides have their backing and who have the most powerful units.
Former opening batsman Imran Nazir, part of Sialkot Stallions’ winning squad in 2006, 2006-07, 2009, 2010 and 2012, is one of three experts tipping Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to become the new champions.
“I am supporting Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he said. “The side has Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman. The team will be coached by our legend Abdul Razzaq. I hope the way Razzaq used to perform for the team, he will take out the same performance from his team players.
Abdur Rehman, part of the Sialkot Stallions winning squad in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, will also be rooting for the all-rounder-packed KP.
“My favourite team is Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. T20 cricket is based on all-rounders and the team’s head coach Abdul Razzaq is one of the best all-rounders produced by Pakistan. There are a lot of all-rounders in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa side including Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez while they also have Wahab Riaz.
“They also have Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Rizwan which makes them a very balanced team.”
Commentator and presenter Bazid Khan said that KP’s bowling sets them apart.
“In my view, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are the favourites because they have match winners in bowling,” he said. “Wahab Riaz is a match winner, Shaheen Shah Afridi is a match winner and Junaid Khan, on his day, is a match winner as well. They have a very good T20 attack, then one should not underestimate [spin all-rounder] Zohaib Khan who is also a very capable all-rounder.
“Khyber Pakhtunkhwa also have the experience [in batting] with Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez, Fakhar Zaman and Iftikhar Ahmed. They would know what will be a good score to set and defend.”
“Rizwan as captain is also a boost for the side especially after his recent performances. The only weakness they might have is the spin department as they don’t have a proven frontline spinner who might come in handy at the backend of the tournament. However, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa can rely on Iftikhar, Shoaib and Hafeez as all three are quality spinners. I am backing Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.”
His fellow commentator Ramiz Raja, however, is riding the Northern train.
“I feel the Northern side will again be a strong side, and it will be difficult to beat them because their captain Imad Wasim is good. They have Shadab Khan, as vice-captain who is progressing very well in the white ball cricket. Similarly, they have a stock in young talent, but I will have my eye on Haider Ali. He is becoming my favourite player because of his fearless batting, and I think he will emerge as a unique star in this tournament.
“Haris Rauf is in the side and he has bowled really fast recently. Farzan Raja hasn’t played much but seems to be a quality leg spinner. Pakistan is in need of spinners so one must keep an eye on him.”
Spin maestro Saeed Ajmal, who has the most wickets (89) in tournament’s history and was adjudicated player of the match in the final of the inaugural edition in 2005, also agrees with Raja.
“I am backing Northern as they have a very exciting side,” he said. “In Imad, Shadab Khan and Mohammad Amir, they have rich experience and quality. They also have some experienced players both in their batting and bowling departments who understand well the demands of T20 cricket.”
Legendary batsman Younis Khan was the only one who thinks Balochistan can become champions.
“I am supporting Balochistan cricket team. This team consists of senior and young exciting players, and I hope under Yasir Shah and star player Bismillah Khan; the team will give very good performances.
“What makes them a formidable unit is the presence of promising youngsters like Haider Ali and Rohail Nazir who have both progressed remarkably well in the last year. Haider has made a wonderful start to his career with his explosive half-century on T20I debut against England. Of course, he would be full of confidence going into the tournament.”