National T20 Cup action moves to Multan

KP lead the table with Balochistan, Sindh and Northern follow

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MULTAN: Multan will be in the spotlight as the best domestic T20 cricketers converge in the city for the second leg of what has been an enthralling Kingdom Valley National T20 Cup 2022-23. The picturesque Multan Cricket Stadium, beginning from tomorrow, will host the last 17 matches – including the semi-finals and the final – of the 33-match tournament.

The 10 and 11 September matches will be played at the same times as Rawalpindi leg – the first match commencing at 0930 and the second at 1345. From 12 September, the first of the two matches will start at 1500, while the second will begin at 1930.

The action-filled Rawalpindi leg ended on Wednesday and after the completion 0f 16 of the 30 group matches, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who are the title defenders and winners of the last two editions, lead the points table with a good four-point distance from the second-placed Balochistan.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are having a near-perfect campaign winning all five matches. They have rolled over every opposition in the tournament and all five sides will be wary of the threat Khalid Usman’s men pose when the Multan leg resumes from tomorrow.

Balochistan, who played the final of the 2019 edition, have won three matches of the five and lost two. With each win granting two points, they have pocketed six points. Under the captaincy of Yasir Shah, Balochistan have had a white-ball resurgence of sorts winning the Pakistan Cup One-Day Tournament at the start of 2022 and they have been on song this tournament.

Sindh, led by Saud Shakeel, are third on the six-team points table due to a lesser net run rate but are locked on six points with Balochistan. They had a terrific start with wins over Southern Punjab and Northern by 42 and 10 runs, but stuttered in between – losing to Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Central Punjab. They signed off the Rawalpindi leg with a solid six-wicket win over Southern Punjab by six wickets at the Pindi Cricket Stadium. Sindh will hope to build on the win against Southern Punjab and carry the momentum when they open the Multan leg by taking on Northern. Sindh have not made it to the final in any of the last three editions.

Fourth-placed Northern were lacklustre at their home ground losing three of their five matches. After starting their campaign with defeats to Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, they won two of their last three matches in Rawalpindi. They beat Central Punjab by three runs, lost to Balochistan by 19 runs and sealed a thriller by five runs against Southern Punjab. They won the 2019 edition of the tournament but have not made it to the final in the last two editions.

Southern Punjab are fifth in the points table. They won two of their first three matches, and had the match against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa curtailed to five overs per side due to weather and ground conditions, which the latter won by seven wickets. It was one of the four games in this edition thus far, in which a total has been chased down.

Central Punjab – the finalists of the last edition – have had the worst start. It is not only that they are placed at the bottom and have only managed one win, but their captain all-rounder Faheem Ashraf has also been ruled out of the tournament after splitting the webbing of his left-hand during his side’s second match of this edition. If there’s any team that would be hoping for a change of fortunes in Multan, it would be Central Punjab. They open their Multan leg tomorrow afternoon against Balochistan.

Top performers

Southern Punjab vice-captain and opener Zain Abbas has been one of the most consistent batters in the tournament with 241 runs at an average of 40.17. But, it is his strike rate of over 152 which has been extraordinary. The left-handed batter has scored two half-centuries.

He is followed by another left-hander Saim Ayub of Sindh, who has brought his 237 runs at even quicker strike rate of 160.13. Twenty-year-old Saim has also made two half-centuries and is averaging 39.50.

Central Punjab’s top-order batter Tayyab Tahir is third on the list with 214 at 42.80 runs per dismissal. He is the only batter this tournament to score three half-centuries and his strike rate stands at 140.

The complete list of the top run-getters is available here.

Experienced fast bowler Sohail Khan has made his experience count for Sindh. The 39-year-old leads the chart for most wicket-takers with 10 scalps at 17 runs per dismissal. His strike rate of 11.10 reflects that he has been getting a wicket every second over.

Southern Punjab captain and off-spinner Salman Ali Agha, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s left-arm fast bowler Mohammad Imran and right-arm fast bowler of Southern Punjab Sameen Gul have nine wickets each, while Ahmed Daniyal of Central Punjab and Imran Khan Snr of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are the next best with eight wickets each.

 

Points table

Teams

P

W

L

Points

NRR

1

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

5

5

0

10

0.811

2

Balochistan

5

3

2

6

-0.163

3

Sindh

6

3

3

6

0.237

4

Northern

5

2

3

4

-0.240

5

Southern Punjab

6

2

4

4

0.403

6

Central Punjab

5

1

4

2

-1.021

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