Balochistan and Northern (Pakistan) are set to lock horns in the first match of the National T20 Cup 2021 on Thursday at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.
Balochistan, led by Imam-ul-Haq, had a horrendous outing in the previous season of the competition. The team failed to quality for the semi-final after finishing bottom of the table with eight points and a disastrous net run rate of -1.042.
Haris Sohail top-scored for them, notching up 288 runs at an average of 28.8 and two half-centuries. Amad Butt was the pick of their bowlers, with 13 scalps. Junaid Khan’s inclusion this time is expected to bolster their attack.
Northern, meanwhile, played exceedingly well in the league stage of the T20 league’s previous edition. The team, currently led by Shadab Khan, finished on top of the points table. They garnered 16 points from ten games, with a net run rate of 0.895.
However, they lost to Southern Punjab (Pakistan) by seven wickets in the semi-final. Batting first, they set their opponents a target of 161 runs. However, Shan Masood’s unbeaten 58-ball 78 denied them victory. Northern (Pakistan) will look to go one step ahead and win the trophy this time.
Match: Balochistan vs Northern (Pakistan), Match 1, National T20 Cup 2021.
Date: September 23, 2021 Wednesday.
Time: 3:30 PM IST.
Venue: Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi.
Conditions will mostly be sunny throughout the game with no chance of rain whatsoever. The temperature will be around the 25-degree Celsius mark.
The Rawalpindi pitch is expected to be a good one for batting. The bowlers are likely to have a tough day in the office. So winning the toss and batting first should be the preferred option.
Predicted Playing XIs
Imam-ul-Haq and Haris Sohail are expected to hold the key for Balochistan in the batting department. Bismillah Khan has loads of potential as well. Amad Butt needs to carry on from where he left off last time around. Balochistan’s bowling department is power-packed as well.
Imam-ul-Haq (C), Haris Sohail, Bismillah Khan (WK), Akbar-ur-Rahman, Kashif Bhatti, Amad Butt, Umaid Asif, Khurram Shahzad, Akif Javed, Yasir Shah, Junaid Khan.
Haider Ali and Zeeshan Malik were the leading run-scorers for Northern in the previous season. Haris Rauf was their leading wicket-taker with 18 scalps. But it was Shadab Khan who put his best foot forward. Not only did he pick up 15 wickets, but he also notched up 237 runs at a strike rate of 160.13.
Ali Imran, Zeeshan Malik, Sohail Akhtar, Haider Ali, Rohail Nazir (WK), Imad Wasim, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan (C), Sohail Tanvir, Muhammad Musa, Haris Rauf.
Northern and Balochistan had contrasting fortunes last season. This time, though. Northern look a much stronger unit, and are expected to beat Baluchistan in their opener..
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