Faysal Bank Super Eight T20: Nail-biting excitement!

Published: March 29, 2013
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The tournament will help Pakistan find fresh talent and will decide the one participant from Pakistan who will particpate in the Champions League. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

The third edition of Faysal Bank’s Super Eight T20 tournament is ongoing in Lahore.

This tournament along with the usual T20 Cup was discarded in favour of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), but due to the postponement of the PSL, it is once again added to the domestic calendar as the main T20 event.

This tournament is important in many ways; not only will it help Pakistan find fresh talent, it will also decide the one player from Pakistan who will qualify for the Champions League in September this year!

The format of the tournament is simple. Eight teams are divided into two groups of four and will play each other once.

Below is a brief explanation of these groups.

This includes the teams that will be participating in the tournament, the progress they will make and the players that we need to watch out for.

Group A:

Abbottabad Falcons, Lahore Lions, Multan Tigers and the Sialkot Stallions.

The Abbottabad Falcons are the weakest team in the group. Even though they have the likes of Junaid Khan and leg spinner, Yasir Shah in the bowling department, there isn’t any capable bowler to back these two up. Batting has always been a problem for them and they lack a quality player in the middle order.

Younis Khan, who was named captain of the Abbottabad team, is not participating in the tournament. This leaves Yasir Hameed as the only capable batsman in the squad. By the looks of it, Abbottabad will finish last in the group.

The Lahore Lions are the strongest team in the tournament. They always have been the strongest team and in terms of the squad, they possess eight international players. Unfortunately, though, most of them have failed to live up to expectations.

With the likes of Ahmed Shehzad and Nasir Jamshed to open, Kamran and Umar Akmal to support, Abdul Razzaq as an all-rounder, Wahab Riaz and Aizaz Cheema in the bowling squad, this team sure looks like a winning combination. This is made even more solid by the fact that Muhammad Hafeez has taken over the captaincy, winning them the FB T20 Cup in December last year.

They will top the group and easily qualify for the semi-finals. If over confidence doesn’t become a hurdle they are the favourites to win the tournament.

The Multan Tigers team is usually the dark horse in the domestic T20 tournaments, having finished second in their group consistently over the past five years and reaching the semi-final in the last one. However, when it comes to the Super Eight T20, they have been a disappointment and may find it difficult to grab the top spots.

They don’t have a strong team but are always able to give a tough fight because of their bowling squad which will be less destructive in the absence of Muhammad Irfan. They still have Rahat Ali and Zulfiqar Babar but batting is not their strongest point. They will probably finish third in the group.

The Sialkot Stallions are the most outstanding team in Pakistan’s domestic T20 history. Not only are they the defending champions of the Super Eight T20 but they have won the domestic T20 tournament as many as six times in the past nine years. Led by Shoaib Malik, they are the only team from Pakistan that have participated in the Champions League so far.

They may not look like the most threatening team, but Imran Nazir, on a lucky day, can win matches entirely on his own. Their spin bowling department is the strongest with the captain himself, Abdul Rehman and Raza Hasan. Rana Naved can also play an important role,but for Sialkot the X-Factor has always been Shoaib Malik’s captaincy. They will probably finish second in the group and can even go on to win the tournament (judging by their history).

Group B:

Bahawalpur Stags, Faisalabad Wolves, Karachi Dolphins, Rawalpindi Rams.

The Bahawalpur Stags came as a surprise in the recent T20 tournament for the first time and they were also able to reach the semi-final. However, there is no doubt that they are the weakest team in the tournament.

Their biggest disadvantage is their inexperience at batting and bowling. This will put them at the bottom of the table in group B, as the other three teams are much stronger.

The only notable and experienced player in the team is Bilal Khilji, the 37-year-old veteran who is captaining the side as well.

The Faisalabad Wolves have always been one of the best. They were the winners of the first ever domestic T20 tournament played, but since then they haven’t been able to repeat their excellent performance. They ought to be thankful to Misbahul Haq and Saeed Ajmal for their strong performances. However, with Saeed Ajmal not playing they might find it difficult to win the tournament this time.

Furthermore, with Muhammad Hafeez joining Lahore Lions, they have also lost a dependable batsman which will leave Misbah and Naveed Latif to share the burden of batting. That said, they will battle hard for the second spot and may edge ahead of the other teams to secure a place in the semi-final.

The Karachi Dolphins ought to be called the chokers of the Pakistani T20 tournaments. Four time finalists of the T20 tournament and also the finalists of both the editions of the Super Eight T20 tournament, they have never been able to win any of these.

A team that has as many as nine international players playing and is led by Shahid Afridi, this is a rather disappointing result.

However, what is more upsetting is that Afridi is not participating in the current tournament, so they won’t have that edge over the other teams like they used to. Although, they have players like Shahzeb Hasan, Asad Shafiq, Fawad Alam, Khalid Latif who have the ability to win games on their day, Karachi will fight for the second spot – unfortunately, this time, they might lose. However, if they grab any of the top two spots, we may see them in another final.

The Rawalpindi Rams may not look strong on paper but they have a young and well balanced side. Led by Sohail Tanvir, they won the inaugural Super Eight T20 tournament by playing defensive and brave cricket.

They also have Yasir Arafat in the team who may not look as threatening but is the fifth highest wicket taker in the T20 history. While Awais Zia will take care of the top, Umar Amin will be the key for them in the batting department. He has been the in-form batsman in the domestic circuit over the past year.

With other teams struggling, Rawalpindi may end the group stage as the top team in group B.

Here’s to another nail-biting domestic T20 – may the best team win!

This post originally appeared here 

Read more by Raafay here, or follow him on Twitter @raafayawan

 

 

Raafay Awan

Raafay Awan

The author is Pakistani living in Australia. He is an entrepreneur, mechanical engineer, traveler, blogger and above all, a cricket enthusiast . He blogs at raafay-awan.blogspot.com and tweets @raafayawan (twitter.com/raafayawan).

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.