National T20 Cup: Heroes and head-turners of Multan leg

Zohaib Ahmed Majeed
National T20 Cup's top performers so far.

A match shy of the halfway mark of the National T20 Cup’s league stage, the Multan leg of the tournament has concluded, with the action now set to shift to the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

The tournament hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations but that is down to the production and management issues and is certainly not an indictment on the players and their talents.

The event has seen plenty of heroes, whom we have identified in the compilation below.

Abdullah Shafique (Central Punjab)

A century on T20 debut wowed everyone but the possibility of him being a one-hit wonder was still there. The 20-year-old has followed up that scintillating ton with double-figures scores in each of his subsequent four innings. He is currently the highest scorer of the tournament with 236 runs to his name and is the maker of the only century so far.

His performances have already generated buzz of a national cap, which he very well might receive in the upcoming home series against Zimbabwe.

If Central Punjab sit second to bottom in the points table, it’s not the doing of the young Shafique.

Zeeshan Malik (Northern)

And if Northern are unbeaten and top of the table, it’s certainly the doing of Zeeshan Malik. The 23-year-old sits fourth in the scoring chart but probably only because the three above him have played a match more.

He was slightly overshadowed by the presence of Haider Ali in the same line-up but since then he has outshone his teammate and emerged as a force to be reckoned with.

Sharjeel Khan (Sindh)

Sharjeel has been alternating between success and failure so far for Sindh in the National T20 Cup. He made just 10 in his first innings, then came a man-of-the-match 77, followed by a duck and a 90.

The tainted lefty’s long-term target definitely is to make it back to the national T20 team. He used PSL 2020 as a stepping stone and the fact that he is Sindh’s highest and tournament’s six-highest scorer with one less match played does his chance no harm.

READ: Youth or experience: In upcoming meet, PCB wants Misbah to identify strategy for Zimbabwe series

Iftikhar Ahmed (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa)

Of all the batsmen with at least 150 runs to their names, Iftikhar Ahmed boasts the highest strike rate of 179.31.

Arguably the oldest looking 30-year-old in world cricket has inarguably the toughest and the most thankless batting assignment in National T20 up: come in at number six and provide fireworks in whatever garbage overs are left.

A total of 156 runs off just 87 balls across five matches, in which he thrice went not out, indicates that so far he has done a good job.

Shaheen Afridi (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa)

The man has two five-wicket hauls when no one else has even one. Of course, he is a hero for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He has 12 wickets in four matches at an average of 9.75, economy rate of 7.31 and best figures of 5-20 – almost all category-best numbers.

If pre-tournament favourites KP have soared to second on the points table, it’s all due to Afridi.

Haris Rauf (Northern)

While most of Afridi’s demolition has come in just two matches, Northern’s Rauf has taken a more consistent approach, picking up wickets in all of his four matches.

With 10 scalps, he has just two less than Afridi and is finally doing in National T20 Cup what he was expected to do for Lahore Qalandars in PSL 2020.

Shadab Khan (Northern)

How do you not give the hero tag to a captain whose team is top of the table, undefeated and has largely blown every one of the water – and that too with a line-up full of previously unheard-of young-uns?

READ: National T20 Cup: Like Multan, Pindi pitch to also be batting paradise, bowling nightmare

But Shadab is not just giving a great audition to one day succeed Babar Azam as national T20 captain. He is also doing a decent job with the ball, having picked up eight wickets in five matches. His average of 19 might not seem too impressive but the fact that he is leaking just 7.6 runs an over and largely stifling the middle-orders earns him a nod here.

His bat has not flowed as we know now can, but the tournament has not ended it.

Muhammad Musa Khan (Northern)

Of all the bowlers who have bowled at least 16 overs in the National T20 Cuo, Muhammad Musa Khan has gone for the least amount of runs (116). Quite how he managed to conceded so less on flat-tracks of Multan is a mystery. The wickets (7) are slightly on the lower side but then teammate and pacer Rauf is doing that well.

P.S.: Uber-experienced names such as Mohammad Hafeez were deemed overqualified for the heroes debate.

National T20 Cup: Heroes and head-turners of Multan leg