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National T20 Cup: Haider’s Audacity, Shafique’s Self Belief, Qadir’s Guile and Sohaibullah’s Bounce Marks Day 1

The Tournament gets of to a blistering start

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The much advertised National T20 Cup started on Wednesday and the PCB couldn’t have asked for a better started at last in cricketing terms. Just over 400 runs were scored in both games, with a couple of stars, batting stars for a change showed the way. Here is a look at the players of the day.

Haider Ali’s Abundance  

Rahul Dravid the legendary Indian batsman who transformed into a decent T20 batsman late in his career shared a few pearls of wisdom about the shortest format batting.

  1. A) Don’t attach as much as value to your wicket as you do in other formats.
  2. B) How the shot looks aesthetically doesn’t matter. Its impact does.

Seemingly, Haider Ali has taken up this advice. In yesterday’s match-defining partnership with Zeeshan Malik, Haider’s audacity was on full display again. In longer format cricket, he can be as pleasing on the eye as Babar Azam. But when it comes to T20 cricket, belligerence is preferred over elegance. The best example was the hoicks towards mid-wicket of Wahab Riaz. In textbook batting, the batsman was swinging from the hip without respecting one of the top T20 bowlers in the world. That is the sort of abundance required in T20 cricket. For too long Pakistan batsmen have either held back or gone full Afridi. Haider seems to know when to do which.

Shafique’s Self Belief

Even if the wicket is flat and you are batting like a dream, Mohammad Irfan is still a giant. Age is perhaps catching up with a man who Virat Kohli admits was once a fierce bowler. Abdullah Shafique, a kid on his debut, skipped a few steps to Irfan before unleashing the perfect straight drive. It was one of the many incredible shots he played in that innings. But this one stood out for the sheer swagger of it.

Qadir’s Guile

Last year, when Usman Qadir was picked ahead of Zahid Mahmood, was few eyebrows were raised. The son of the legendary leg spinner was being parachuted in the side ahead of the consistent domestic performer. So in a way, the Punjab derby (if you will) yesterday was a straight shoot out for the 2nd leg spinner’s spot in the national side.

It’s fair to say Usman Qadir came out on top easily. He delivered a wonderful googlie from a relatively short of a length ball to dismiss an aggressive Shan Masood. Then bagged Sobaib Masqood’s wicket with a leg spinner just as he threatened to take the game away from Central Punjab.

With Shadab Khan taking up more of an all rounder’s role and somewhat reluctant in bowling to left-handers, there seems to be an opening in the national side. Pakistan can afford to experiment with Qadir at least for the Zimbabwe series. If he can extract that kind of spin with his googlie on a flat wicket, he can prove to be an asset.

Sohaibullah’s Bounce

In a match where 400 runs were scored, it is easy to ignore the contribution of bowlers. Even if they do look at the bowlers, the sexier art of leg-spin would be the focus. A 24-year medium pacer who nobody saw playing 1st class cricket in Sri Lanka is likely to catch your eye, even with his three-wicket. That is if didn’t see the match attentively.

The left armer was super impressive with his control over length and bounce. With his slightly whippy action, he was able to generate extra bounce, with did for Pakistan hopefuls Zeeshan Ashraf and Khushdil Shah. From a left-arm angle, Sohaib was bowling hard lengths which made Faheem Ashraf such a successful PSL and to a degree international bowler. In the age of funky slower balls and mixing of lengths, this bowler stuck to hard white ball lengths and was rewarded for it.

the authorAsjad Khan