National T20 Cup 2021: Team Previews

The 2021 edition of the tournament gets underway September 23, with Pakistan's T20 World Cup squad participating.

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The National T20 Cup 2021 starts tomorrow (23rd September) at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. After the cancellation of Pakistan’s T20I home series against New Zealand and England, this is the last opportunity for some game time for Pakistan’s contingent for the upcoming T20 World Cup. With the inclusion of the T20I squad in the tournament, both the level of competition and the interest of fans in the event has increased. In this article, we will take a quick look at the squads announced for each of the six sides in the NT20 Cup 2021.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Squad

Strengths

The defending champions, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), have the same captain this time. The combination of captain Mohammad Rizwan alongside Fakhar Zaman is among the best opening pairs in this tournament. In the middle order, they have players like Iftikhar Ahmed and Mohammad Haris, while Musadiq Ahmed, Asif Afridi, and Wasim Jr. will be instrumental in the latter part of the innings. Another strength KP have is a very strong pace attack led by Shaheen Shah Afridi. The best emerging pacers of PSL 5 (Arshad Iqbal) and PSL 6 (Wasim Jr.) are present in KP’s squad. Imran Khan, who was also among the top 10 wicket-takers in the last PSL season, is also in KP’s squad.

T20 Batting Record as Openers

Mohammad Rizwan

 

Fakhar Zaman

45

Inns

121

1817

Runs

3342

53.4

Avg

28.3

131

SR

135

17

50+

24

5.9

BpB

5.1

Weaknesses

KP are missing variety among their spin bowlers. Asif Afridi is the only spinner in the squad with a good T20 record. Maaz Khan, the young leg-spinner, is the only wrist-spinner. The team will have to rely on part-timers for spin bowling. Additionally, Fakhar Zaman will most probably be the only left-hander in KP’s top 6 unless they opt to include Israrullah in the playing XI. The majority of right-hand batsmen might make the batting lineup vulnerable to leg-spinners.

Possible XI

  1. Mohammad Rizwan (C & WK)
  2. Fakhar Zaman
  3. Adil Amin
  4. Iftikhar Ahmed
  5. Mohammad Haris
  6. Musadiq Ahmed
  7. Mohammad Wasim Jr.
  8. Asif Afridi
  9. Shaheen Shah Afridi
  10. Arshad Iqbal
  11. Imran Khan Sr.

Southern Punjab

Squad

Strengths

The runners-up of the last National T20 Cup are being led by a local captain, Sohaib Maqsood, this time. Southern Punjab’s squad consists of the best six hitters (Sohaib Maqsood, Khushdil Shah, & Azam Khan) present in the country. Openers Zeeshan Ashraf and Tayyab Tahir also have an aggressive style of batting. All-rounders like Aamer Yamin, Imran Randhawa, and Hassan Khan can provide SP the luxury of a deep batting lineup. This all-out attacking capability of their batting attack can prove dangerous for their oppositions.

Best balls/six ratios for Pakistanis in T20s since 2020 (min 20 sixes)

Player

Inns

6s

Balls/6

Khushdil Shah

40

56

11.0

Azam Khan

49

60

11.2

Asif Ali

48

46

11.9

Sohaib Maqsood

29

46

12.1

Weaknesses

The bowling attack of SP is not among the best ones in the tournament. While Naseem Shah performed well in the recent Caribbean Premier League, the other pacers such as Mohammad Ilyas, Imran Randhawa, and Aamer Yamin have not been in good form recently. Their spin attack consisting of Hassan Khan, Umer Khan, and the young Faisal Akram is vulnerable. Umer has conceded almost 9 runs an over with a 35+ bowling average in T20s in Pakistan. Hassan’s bowling numbers are also average. Faisal, who is yet to make his T20 debut, can prove to be a surprising factor among the three.

Possible XI

  1. Zeeshan Ashraf (WK)
  2. Tayyab Tahir
  3. Sohaib Maqsood (C)
  4. Azam Khan
  5. Khushdil Shah
  6. Hassan Khan
  7. Imran Randhawa
  8. Aamer Yamin
  9. Dilbar Hussain / Mohammad Ilyas
  10. Faisal Akram
  11. Naseem Shah

Central Punjab

Strengths

Central Punjab’s squad consists of the most experienced T20 players in the tournament and has 12 T20I capped players among the 17. Pakistan’s current all-format captain Babar Azam is leading the side, while former national captains Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik are also present alongside him. Four of the top five local run-scorers in the Pakistan Super League are part of CP’s squad. This experience is not limited to their batting. They also have the top three wicket-takers of PSL in the squad. Alongside these three pacers, the presence of Usman Qadir and Ahmed Safi Abdullah will give them a variety of spinners. An additional benefit of all these bowlers is that all of them can bat. This will allow CP to have a lineup with no tailenders.

Most Wickets in the Pakistan Super League

Player

Inns

Wkts

Avg

Econ

SR

Wahab Riaz

66

94

19.6

7.4

15.9

Hasan Ali

54

72

20.9

7.3

17.0

Faheem Ashraf

39

55

18.9

7.8

14.4

Mohammad Nawaz

61

55

26.3

7.2

22.0

Weaknesses

The only thing which might turn against Central Punjab is the poor form of some of their experienced batters. Shoaib Malik was only able to score 67 runs (@ 7.4) in CPL 2021. Mohammad Hafeez and Kamran Akmal have also been in poor form in T20s this year.

Possible XI

  1. Babar Azam (C)
  2. Kamran Akmal (WK)
  3. Hussain Talat
  4. Shoaib Malik
  5. Qasim Akram
  6. Mohammad Hafeez
  7. Faheem Ashraf
  8. Hasan Ali
  9. Wahab Riaz
  10. Usman Qadir
  11. Ahmed Safi Abdullah / Waqas Maqsood

Sindh

Squad