These 10 cricketers from the National T20 Cup are the reason why the future of Pakistan cricket excites me

Published: November 25, 2017
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These cricketers could come in as replacements, once a few of the main team players leave for the BPL.

It is that time of year again, the National T20 Cup. Every year, the tournament generally produces a few potential future international cricketers. Past names include Mukhtar Ahmed, Nauman Anwar, Raza Hasan and Haris Sohail. And I’m relatively sure that this tournament will discover a few too.

As the national T20 commences, I look at the top 10 players to watch out for during the tournament:

1. Sahibzada Farhan

Born in Charsadda, Sahibzada’s breakout tournament was in early 2016 where he was called in as a late replacement for Azhar Ali. Throughout the tournament, he put up consistent scores, however, it was in the final where he made his mark by scoring a half century. He’s a right-hander who is strong off the back foot. With Ahmed Shehzad’s recent struggles, we could see Sahibzada drafted in, provided he does well in this tournament.

Photo: PakPassion

2. Rohail Nazir

Not many would have heard of Rohail, but he is one who has come up the ranks in Pakistan cricket, having just recently played for the Pakistan’s Under 16 (U-16) team. Here, he regularly scored, most notably scored centuries against Australia U-16. Rohail is also a wicket-keeper, which is an advantage.

Photo: PakPassion

3. Danish Aziz

I remember watching Danish in a domestic tournament a year or so ago, and thought he is a fantastic player. At such a young age, he was taking on the likes of Saaed Ajmal successfully, showing he has buckets of talent. Since that tournament, he hasn’t done much with the bat, although his performances with the ball have been noticeable.

Photo: PCB

4. Saif Badar

Saif is also one of the cricketers who have come up the ranks. He was part of the 2016 Under 19 (U-19) World Cup squad where he excelled, and caught the attention of many. His powerful stroke-play is a delight to watch and is what earned him a contract with Lahore Qalandars in 2017. Although a precocious talent, Saif hasn’t put in worthy performances of late, but in this tournament, he has the perfect platform to do so.

Photo: Screenshot

5. Umair Masood

I always rate players who perform on the big stage, or in tough circumstances, and Umair is one of them. In the 2016 Under 19 (U-19) World Cup semi-final, with Pakistan struggling, Umair played an outstanding knock to get his team out of trouble. During this knock, he showed he had immense skill as well as maturity. Since those amazing innings, he’s hardly had a chance to perform in domestic cricket. His offside play is outstanding and with him being able to keep wicket, it makes him an extremely valuable cricketer.

Masood attributed his success to the hard yards he had put in at the Galaxy Cricket Club in Rawalpindi under the tutelage of Zahoor Ahmed Bhatti. Photo: International Cricket Council

6. Hussain Talat

After being on the bench for most of season two of the PSL, Hussain was finally given a chance to play and he impressed immediately by striking a 50. The highlight of that innings was a shot over extra cover for six, one of the hardest strokes to play as a batsman. I feel that Hussain can play many roles; he can play in the top order as a genuine batsman, or he can play down the order as a hitter, making him a versatile cricketer, which is always handy. Pakistan do not have many fast bowling all-rounders, however, in Hussain, they have a special one. His bowling does need a bit of work, but I feel in a few years, he’ll become the finished article. He is particularly strong through the offside.

Photo: Screenshot

7. Atif Jabbar

I saw Atif play a domestic tournament a few years ago and was immediately impressed with what he had to offer. He appeared on the scene randomly, and just like that, he disappeared. Most recently, however, he’s been a regular in domestic cricket and has had a fair bit of success. Atif is a right-handed fast-bowler who hits the bat hard. I estimate he bowls around the 85mph mark, and with a little bit of outwards shape, that is a deadly combination.

8. Shaheen Shah

Recently, quite a few videos of Shaheen’s bowling emerged. These videos, as well as a record-breaking domestic debut, gained him a Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) contract, mainly due to his similarity with Australian bowler Mitchell Starc. Shaheen is a left-arm bowler with the ability to move the ball.

Photo: PakPassion

9. Shehzad Azam

Shehzad is one of the older cricketers in this list, but I feel he is a very good option with the ball. So far in his career, he hasn’t been given much opportunity to showcase his talent. The right-arm pacer has been consistent in domestic cricket for a few seasons now, showing he has a lot of ability. He shapes the ball both ways, but the best thing about him is his fitness and engine. Shehzad can run in all day, although I feel his best format is probably with the red ball.

10. Amad Butt

Amad is another cricketer who I’ve seen perform in difficult circumstances. This was during the 2014 World Cup semi-final, where he played a clutch innings. Although a capable batsman, his prowess lies with the ball, where he can bowl impressive yorkers at the death.

Ammad Butt of Pakistan celebrates after winning the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup 2014 Semi Final match between England and Pakistan at the Dubai Sports City Cricket Stadium on February 24, 2014 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photo: Getty

Other notable mentions include the likes of Ahsan Ali, Imamul Haq and Zain Abbas who are all talented cricketers.

The national T20 tournament is set to be thrilling, although, I do find it really odd that the PSL draft is set to take place around the same time as this tournament starts. Surely, logic and sense would be to have the PSL draft at the end of this tournament, so team owners can see the promising talent and recruit accordingly.

Overall, looking at the squad, it seems that not many upcoming bowlers have been given a chance. The names we see are the regular names we have seen for the past few years, which is difficult to get excited by. Similarly, a few top upcoming batsmen have missed out, most notably Saud Shakeel. These cricketers, however, could come in as replacements, once a few of the main team players leave for the BPL. The future of Pakistan excites me, as we have so much talent coming through.

Haroon Ahmed

Haroon Ahmed

The author is a freelance journalist based in Birmingham. He specialises in sports journalism and has previously been published by reputable companies. He tweets @hazharoon.

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

  • 19640909rk .

    look like street players.Recommend

  • Jamshed Mir

    The names you have made put int the list were’nt that successful in getting most games in Natl. T20 cup apart from Sahibzada Farhan. None of the young lot u named like Danish aziz did not play most games so they performing well is kinda wrong. Only remember Umair Masood he dropped a lot of catches and could’nt gather the ball.
    The performers on NationalT20 are from domestic circuit like Gohar Ali, Sohaib Maqsood, Hammad azam, Sohail Akhtar, Nasir Nawaz, Saad Ali, Kashif Bhatti, etc..Recommend

  • Israr Khan

    ooo haroon u missed many :) lets revisit few u mentioned ……….
    hussain talat u r right he is awesome a last over specialist mashaAllah a great guy with perfect attitude and he is not a fast bowler he is more like steve waugh shane watson type medium pacer plus he is a left hand bat and right arm bowl great guy and only what 21-22 so he is ready to represent Pakistan in nz t20 and odi series he must be given a chance… his batting wow he takes ownership and all finishes the game on his own fantastic guy and i would like to see him picked in nz series please
    fahim ashraf impressed with both ball and bat great guy must play for paksitan all the time
    farhaaaaaaaaaaaaaan wow that is raw talent and we must pick him asap for nz t20s only for now the ball moves there and he is perfect for aus eng uae type of surfaces

    umair is wkt batsman and yes he is calm collected and a proper test match material in 2-3 years he can replace safi easy …
    zia ul haq is good bowler but need more time, sameen gul the same, we need to have harris sohail firing and shame to see no off spin shining its really a shame :(
    great article i enjoyed itRecommend

  • http://vbuy.pk vBuy.pk

    Most of them are not playing National T20 at all. Shaheen Afridi was busy with Asia U-19 Cup.Recommend

  • Saud Umar Khan

    over to the PCB to groom the talent!Recommend