The National T20 Cup 2020-2021 kicked off on Thursday, with the opening match played between Balochistan led by Imam-ul-Haq and Northern led by Shadab Khan. The tournament has been organized by PCB in the aftermath of the embarrassing New Zealand abandonment of their tour with Pakistan at the eleventh hour followed by the ungrateful English Cricket Board canceling its upcoming tour to Pakistan.
Shadab Khan side stunned Balochistan with 6 wickets and 18 balls in hand as the player of the match Haider Ali scored a half-century for Northern.
Earlier, the captains of all the six participating sides of the National T20 have urged fans in Rawalpindi and Lahore, to rally behind the tournament which showcases the best of Pakistan’s T20 talent.
All 18 Pakistan players (including the three traveling reserves) selected for ICC Men’s T20 World Cup will be seen in action in the tournament that runs from 23 September to 13 October.
The first leg will run until October 3 at Rawalpindi’s Pindi Cricket Stadium, before the action moves to Gaddafi Stadium, where the second leg will be staged from October 6-13. Nearly PKR 9 million prize money will be up for grabs in the National T20.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa captain Muhammad Rizwan said, “The tournament provides us a great opportunity to prove to the world that we are as safe as any cricketing destination, all the players are motivated to go a step extra this time around in the National T20. All six teams are balanced while being defending champions, our aim will be to defend the title.”
Balochistan captain Imam-ul-Haq said, “This event is just like a mini-Pakistan Super League with the quality and competition on display. It will be a wonderful preparation opportunity for the players who are in the T20 World Cup squad as all six teams will go all-out for glory.
Home City Central Punjab captain Babar Azam said, “The quality of cricket is very high in the National T20 events, backed by the outstanding pitches at Pindi Cricket Stadium, the Rawalpindi-leg should produce wonderful entertainment. The event is a great opportunity for T20 World Cup preparations and I hope all players in the UAE-bound squad will give it their all in the event. My aim will be to lead Central Punjab to the title.”
Northern captain Shadab Khan said, “The Pindi Cricket Stadium is my home ground and I started playing here as a kid. The tournament will surely help us in the preparations for T20 World Cup. I am hopeful that we can repeat the 2019 performances and win the trophy once again.”
GFS Sindh captain Sarfaraz Ahmed said, “Our fans have always been our strength and while we are going through another tough phase at the moment, it is the fans, who can lift us up. I request the fans to turn up at the venue and back us. The tournament will also provide great practice and preparation opportunities to the T20 World Cup-bound players. This year, we are aiming to make it to the final and lift the trophy.”
ATF Southern Punjab captain Sohaib Maqsood said, “The National T20 provides rich entertainment to the fans, I really hope that we will see the fans show their passion in Rawalpindi and Lahore. Last year, we played the final, and this year, we plan to go one step better and win the trophy.”