Following the completion of the National T20, the 2021-22 season moves on to the next phase, with the country’s premier cricket tournament, the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, beginning on October 20.
Participation in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy has remained the pinnacle for domestic cricketers, with the tournament establishing and producing red-ball stars who have gone on to wear the golden star. The tournament has produced thrilling matches over the years, with last years final also going down to the wire and ending in a tie, with Central Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa sharing the trophy.
Fans will be able to see the action up close and personal this year, thanks to the Pakistan Cricket Board’s decision to open stands at all venues. The only requirement for entry will be the government-issued Immunisation Certification for Covid-19. As part of its efforts to incentivize and reward top-performing cricketers, the PCB has put PKR17 million on the table, with the champion team receiving PKR10 million and the runner-up receiving PKR5 million.
The top four performers – tournament player, best batter, best bowler, and best wicketkeeper – will each receive PKR500,000. The winner of the final will receive PKR50,000.
The first five rounds of the 31-match event, which will be played by the first XI sides of the six Cricket Associations, will be held at Faisalabad’s Iqbal Stadium, Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium, and Multan Cricket Stadium before moving to Karachi on November 24.
In the first round, Iftikhar Ahmed’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will face Nauman Ali’s Northern at Gaddafi Stadium, Fawad Alam’s Sindh will face Imran Butt’s Balochistan at Iqbal Stadium, and the Punjab Derby will take place at Multan Cricket Stadium, with Azhar Ali’s Central Punjab facing Mohammad Abbas’ Southern Punjab. The final five rounds will be played at UBL Sports Complex, SBP Sports Complex, and NBP Sports Complex before the final, a five-day event, begins on December 25 at the iconic National Stadium.
All Quaid-e-Azam Trophy action from Pakistan’s cricket home, the Gaddafi Stadium, will be captured by nine High-Definition cameras and streamed live on PCB’s official YouTube channel. The live-stream schedule for the final five rounds will be announced soon, and the final will be televised on PTV Sports.
The goal of the result-oriented points system introduced last year was to instill an attacking and positive mindset in the teams, and bonus and match points will continue to be allocated based on it.
In the previous edition, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – which won five matches, the most by any team – and Central Punjab finished first and second in the group stage with 161 and 137 points, respectively.
Southern Punjab finished third with 129 points, Balochistan and Northern collected 128 and 123 points from three wins each to finish fourth and fifth, respectively, and Sindh finished last with 87 points.
“We have not been able to play according to expectations in the last two seasons,” Balochistan captain Imran Butt said on Monday, “but there was a marked improvement in the 2020-21 season from the 2019-20 season, and we plan to continue to build on it.”
One of the most notable aspects of our squad this year is that we have recruited local players from the province based on their outstanding performances in CCA tournaments.
Playing alongside experienced cricketers such as Imam-ul-Haq, Haris Sohail, Junaid Khan, and Yasir Shah will help them better understand the game, and I am excited to have them in our dressing room.
“The last season was outstanding for us as our team truly lived up to the never-say-die spirit and staged what will be remembered as one of the most epic comebacks,” Central Punjab captain Azhar Ali said. I am confident that we will win the prestigious trophy for the third time in a row this year.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa captain Iftikhar Ahmed stated, “Our team is oozing with confidence as we have successfully extended our last year’s form to this year.” We’ve adapted our cricket to meet modern demands, and it’s paying off.
The retention of the National T20 title has given our squad a huge boost, and we are all looking forward to the start of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.”
Northern captain Nauman Ali stated, “The Quaid-e-Azam Trophy is a tournament where stars are made, and it provides a great opportunity for domestic cricketers to make an impression because it is watched all over the world.”
My rise to the national team is one such example, and my message to the team is to seize opportunities and seize them with both hands.
We have a young and dynamic squad that has the ability to turn a game on its head in any situation, and I am excited to lead them.
“Our last year’s journey did not go as planned,” Sindh captain Fawad Alam said, “but we learned from that campaign.”
The key to success in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy has always been adaptability as the conditions, with the constant change of weather and venue, change, and I am confident that we will overcome all challenges with this group of players.
“It is always good to dominate a campaign right from the start,” Southern Punjab captain Mohammad Abbas said. “The Punjab Derby provides a good opportunity to make an impression.”
Last year, we missed out on qualification by only eight points, but it was a fantastic learning experience for us, and our team has grown tremendously since then. We may have a young team, but these players have everything it takes to make it big.”