Central Punjab will look to win their first
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will aim to defend their title while Central Punjab will look to win their first National T20 Cup as the two teams clash at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore on Wednesday.
KP come into the final after beating Northern by five-wickets thanks to a rollicking finishing move of 54 off 26 balls from Iftikhar Ahmed, who was supported by in-form batsman Sahibzada Farhan (45 off 17).
Arshad Iqbal’s three wickets also proved crucial for the winners.
Central Punjab, on the other hand, cruised past a struggling Sindh side as contributions by veteran batsmen Kamran Akmal (51 off 36) and Ahmed Shehzad (49 off 46) made the 141-run target look a fairly easy one.
Qasim Akram shined with the ball for the eventual semi-finalists, bagging three wickets and conceding only 15 runs in his four overs. He sent seasoned campaigners Sharjeel Khan, Saud Shakeel and Danish Aziz back to the pavilion.
KP will have an edge in the final for two reasons. One, their experience of winning the tournament last year and two, having the services of Farhan and fast-bowler Imran Khan Sr. at their disposal.
Farhan, with 421 runs in 11 outings, is the highest run-scorer of the third edition of the National T20 Cup after the domestic structure revamp while Imran is on the top of the wicket-taking charts with 15 wickets in 11 matches.
Pakistan discard Iftikhar’s presence will also terrify the opposition bowlers due to his finishing capability.
He is the third highest run-getter after Farhan and Sindh’s Sharjeel with 364 runs in 11 matches. The right-hander has maintained a strike rate of 164.70.
To limit the danger posed by Iftikhar and co., Central Punjab will reply on the experience of Wahab Riaz. The veteran pacer has maintained an economy rate of 6.67 in 11 matches and has 12 scalps in the tournament. His performances with the bat have also been impressive.
Wahab will captain the team in the absence of Pakistan skipper Babar Azam, who has joined the national team preparatory camp for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. Iftikhar will lead the defending champions.
Central Punjab: Mohammad Akhlaq, Ahmed Shehzad, Kamran Akmal (wk.), Hussain Talat, Qasim Akram, Faheem Ashraf, Saif Badar, Mohammad Faizan, Wahab Riaz (capt.), Zafar Gohar, Sameen Gul
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: Sahibzada Farhan, Adil Amin, Kamran Ghulam, Asif Afridi, Iftikhar Ahmed (capt.), Nabi Gul, Khalid Usman, Mohammad Haris (wk.), Mohammad Imran, Imran Khan, Arshad Iqbal