ICL: Indian Cricket League

Pentangular Cup cricket starts today with live TV coverage


All the 21 players who represented Pakistan in the recent 5-0 clean sweep of touring Zimbabwe in a One-day International series, including the nine newcomers who mdae their debut for the national side, in addition to controversial fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar will be on display as the 2007-08 season’s Pentangular Cup cricket championship gets under way, with two matches in Karachi and Lahore, from today (Sunday).

While Sindh will be facing the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) team here at the National Stadium in its opening four-day match, to be televised live exclusively by GEO Super, favourites to win the title Punjab will encounter the newly-created Federal Area outfit at Gaddafi Stadium Lahore.

The fifth team in the prestigious first-class Pentangular Cup tournament is Balochistan, which will play its first match on February 22, when the competition resumes after an eight-day break due to the General Elections in the country. No matches will be played in the Pentangular Cup from February 14 to 21, after the two inaugural games come to an end on the coming Wednesday.

Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik has been named skipper of the Punjab team. Punjab have never won the five-team tournament, but they were runners-up twice — once in the inaugural competition back in 1973-74 and then in 2006-07, which was the last season.

Shoaib Akhtar, looking to regain full match fitness before the expected tour of Australia to Pakistan takes place next month, is at the head of the Federal Area team. Star batsman Younis Khan is leading NWFP, hard-hitting all-rounder Shahid Afridi is the Sindh captain while the experienced left-handed middle-order batsman Nasim Khan is leading Balochistan.

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) selectors have picked a total of 100 cricketers distributed equally among the five teams. These comprise 75 top performers of the recently concluded Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Championship — with a few misses here and there — plus 25 young players who have shown promise over the last few months.

This pool of one hundred cricketers, of course, doesn’t include members of the Pakistan Under-19s squad which has proceeded to Malaysia not only to defend its championship title, but also hoping to grab the Under-19s World Cup for a third time in succession.

ABN AMRO Bank, sponsors of all major Pakistan domestic cricket, have put up 1.7 million rupees as prize money for the Pentangular Cup tournament. The winning team will take away a whopping one million rupees while Rs 500,000 will go to the runners-up.

The best batsman, bowler, wicket-keeper and fielder too will receive Rs 50,000 each as their reward. The Player of the Tournament will drive away in a brand new 1600cc car.

The five teams taking part in the Pentangular include all the country’s four provinces — Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and NWFP. The fifth team represents the Federal Area, which includes players from Rawalpindi and Islamabad, the latter’s team having figured prominently in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Championship played recently.

Under a brand new format, instead of the teams’ nomenclature being more important, PCB has stressed upon the inclusion of all top players in the tournament. Apparently the appearance of all these leading players has been made mandatory.

The incentive is that the entire playing eleven will be paid Rs 25,000 per match. Even those who sit on the sidelines will get Rs 10,000 each per match regradless. The win bonus money for each team is Rs 100,000 for every match.

The Punjab team is composed of players from the Lahore, Faisalabad and Sialkot cricketing regions of the country. Another outfit from the Punjab province, Multan, has instead provided guest players to Balochistan to strengthen the side, as it can only draw upon talent from the Quetta region.

The Balochistan team actually contains only five players from Quetta itself. As many as 12 cricketers have joined in from Multan, one player is from Sialkot and two from Karachi.

Sindh’s talent comes from its two main components Karachi and Hyderabad. The NWFP team comprises players from Peshawar and Abbottabad but, for the Pentangular Cup, they have been given three guest players too.

These are Karachi’s upcoming opening batsman Asad Shafiq and Faisalabad’s middle-order batsman Khurram Shahzad and the left-arm fast-medium Samiullah Niazi, who made his ODI debut in the series against Zimbabwe.

Although provincial, regional and city cricket associations have appeared in previous Pentangulars as separate units, these tournaments have always been dominated by teams representing departments.

Of the 12 competitions, which were technically truly five-team contests, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Habib Bank Limited (HBL) and United Bank Limited (UBL) have been the winners three times each, National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) twice and Pakistan Automobile Corporation (PACO) once.

When the Pentangular — it was then dubbed as the Pentangular Trophy — was introduced as a special part of Pakistan’s domestic first-class circuit back in 1973-74, it was of course a five-team competition. But when six teams competed in 1974-75 and a total of eight in 1976-77, it still continued to be known as the ‘Pentangular’.

In 1975-76 again, five teams did take part in it. From 1977-78, still with eight teams on the roster, its title was changed to the Board of Control for Cricket in Pakistan (BCCP) Invitation Tournament.

After three Invitation Tournaments in successive seasons, the Pentangular made a comeback, this time in the garb of the PACO Cup named after its sponsors. The PACO Cup was played five times in the six seasons from 1980-81 to 1985-86 as a five-team contest.

When it was played in 1986-87, still as the PACO Cup, it included eight teams and then ceased to exist as PACO withdrew its sponsorship. The Pentangular Cup returned in 1990-91 and was then played twice in 1994-95 and 1995-96.

Thereafter followed a 10-year gap before the Pentangular Cup idea was revived in 2005-06 and, now, it is to be played for a third consecutive season.

While Balochistan and NWFP — and of course the Federal Area — will be appearing as separate entities in a Pentangular Cup competition for the first time, Punjab and Sindh have played a few seasons in the past. Faisalabad are the only regional association to ever finish near the top. They were the runners-up to National Bank as recently as 2005-06.

Today’s teams to be chosen from: Punjab — Shoaib Malik (captain), Misbah-ul-Haq (vice-captain), Mohammad Yousuf, Salman Butt, Mohammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal (wk), Naved Latif, Adnan Raza, Ammar Mahmood, Junaid Zia, Wahab Riaz, Waqas Ahmed, Mansoor Amjad, Mohammad Khalil, Abdul Rehman, Mohammad Salman (wk), Aizaz Cheema, Kashif Raza, Nasir Jamshed and Azhar Ali.

Sindh — Shahid Afridi (captain), Faisal Iqbal (vice-captain), Khalid Latif, Khurram Manzoor, Shadab Kabir, Naumanullah, Hasan Raza, Asim Kamal, Fawad Alam, Rizwan Ahmed, Sohail Khan, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Sami, Faisal Athar, Danish Kaneria, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Hanif Malik (wk), Tahir Khan, Uzair-ul-Haq and Asif Zakir.

Federal Area — Shoaib Akhtar (captain), Rao Iftikhar (vice-captain), Yasir Arafat, Sohail Tanvir, Rauf Akbar, Naeem Anjum (wk), Afaq Rahim, Raheel Majeed, Naved Ashraf, Usman Saeed, Bazid Khan, Shahzad Azam, Umair Khan, Atif Maqbool, Fayyaz Ahmed, Bilal Asad, Ashar Zaidi, Babar Naeem, Yasir Ali and Asadullah Sumeri.

NWFP — Younis Khan (captain), Yasir Hameed (vice-captain), Rafatullah Mohmand, Wajid Ali, Aftab Khan, Wajahatullah Wasti, Riaz Kail, Asad Shafiq, Zulfiqar Jan (wk), Aslam Qureshi, Yasir Shah, Khurram Shahzad, Shakeel-ur-Rehman, Nauman Habib, Fazl-e-Akbar, Adnan Raees, Fawad Khan (wk), Junaid Khan and Samiullah Niazi.

Pentangular Cup match schedule: February 10-13 Sindh v NWFP at National Stadium Karachi (umpires Riazuddin and Saleem Badar, match referee Anwar Khan, official scorer Mohammad Ahsan, TV umpire Ahsan Raza). Punjab v Federal Area at Gaddafi Stadium Lahore (Aleem Dar and Nadeem Ghauri, Mohammad Anis, Azhar Hussain).

Matches after the General Elections break: February 22-25 Sindh v Balochistan at National Stadium Karachi. NWFP v Federal Area at Arbab Niaz Stadium Peshawar. February 28-March 2 Sindh v Federal Area at National Stadium Karachi. Punjab v Balochistan at Jinnah Stadium Sialkot. March 5-8 Federal Area v Balochistan at Diamond Club Ground Islamabad. Punjab v NWFP at Gaddafi Stadium Lahore. March 11-14 Sindh v Punjab at National Stadium Karachi. Balchistan v NWFP at Bugti Stadium Quetta.

Source:Cricket News

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