LAHORE     -     Pakistan’s most sought-after twenty20 stars will be in action at Faisalabad’s Iqbal Stadium as the National T20 Cup commences on Sunday, 13 October.

The tournament returns to the city of Faisalabad after eight seasons and it is expected to keep the spectators on the edge of their seats as the top 96 players of the country in the shortest format will compete for the T20 glory.

After the restructuring in the domestic structure, the winning prize money for the tournament has seen a 100 per cent surge as the team to be crowned the champions of the National T20 Cup on October 24 will pocket Rs5million.

The runner-up will get Rs2.5million and the top performers of the tournament - player of the tournament, best batsman of the tournament, best bowler of the tournament and best wicketkeeper of the tournament - will get PKR100,000 each. The man-of-the-match award for every match is worth Rd25,000, while man-of-the-final will be getting Rs35,000.

With Pakistan scheduled to play three T20Is against Australia in early November, followed by the player draft for the 2020 Pakistan Super League, the tournament serves as a perfect opportunity to the players to secure berths in the national squad and impress scouts of the six franchises.

It, however, will be difficult for the players to grab attention of the national selectors and franchises’ scouting teams with the enhancements in the quality of cricket which has been brought by the reduction in the number of teams at the top-level in the new domestic structure.

The tournament will be broadcasted live on Ten Sports and PTV Sports, and two matches will be played in a day, except for the final on 24 October. The first match of the day will begin at 1:30pm and the second match of the day will be a day/night affair, with the first ball being bowled at 5:30pm.

Southern Punjab captain Shan Masood said: “This tournament will produce more stars for Pakistan. I request all the fans to come to the stadium and enjoy cricket. This time, the PCB has dedicated Javed Miandad enclosure for the families, to provide comfort to the family.”

Central Punjab vice-captain Ahmed Shehzad said: “No cricket can be successful unless and until without the engagement of the crowd. The people of Faisalabad not only enjoy cricket but have always supported the cricketers whenever they are here. We are here to entertain the fans and I request everyone, specifically the families, to come out and enjoy.”

Balochistan vice-captain Imran Farhat said: “The up-and-coming cricketers of all the teams are highly talented and entertaining. I am sure that the quality of cricket will be amazing in the tournament and the people of Faisalabad will have a great time at the stadium.”

Sindh captain Sarfaraz Ahmed said: “There’s a new structure in place after which we will get to see quality cricket. A specific enclosure, Javed Miandad, has been dedicated for the families and I request all the parents to bring their kids to the stadium so they can get to see their stars in action.”

Northern player Sohail Tanvir said: “We have always received tremendous support from the fans here in Faisalabad. The cricketers and fans go hand in hand and we are nothing without them. I look forward to the traditional Faisalabad support for this tournament as well.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Mohammad Rizwan added: “We need fans to boost us. The cricketing action is going to be top-class as every team boasts at least 10 to 11 international players. There’s a new system in place which focuses on quality, and it will be on display during the course of this tournament.”

National T20 Cup Second

XI tournament

The National T20 Cup Second XI tournament will be held at Karachi’s National Stadium, running simultaneously with the First XI tournament. This will provide chances to up-and-coming cricketers to prove their mettle, while the First XI sides can also gauge white-ball form of these players in case they need backup.

Like the First XI tournament, there will be two matches in a day in the Second XI tournament, except for the final. The first match will commence at 930am, while the second match of the day is scheduled for 130pm.

First XI squads

Balochistan: Haris Sohail (captain), Imran Farhat (vice-captain), Akif Javed, Ali Shafiq, Amad Butt, Awais Zia, Bismillah Khan (wicketkeeper), Hussain Talat, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Butt, Mohammad Asghar, Mohammad Talha, Shahbaz Khan, Taimur Khan, Umar Gul and Yasir Shah

Central Punjab: Babar Azam (captain), Ahmed Shehzad (vice-captain), Ahmad Bashir, Ali Shan, Bilal Asif, Fahim Ashraf, Hasan Ali (subject to fitness), Kamran Akmal, Nasim Shah, Rizwan Hussain, Saad Naseem, Salman Butt, Umar Akmal, Usman Qadir, Waqas Maqsood and Zafar Gohar

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: M Rizwan (captain and wicketkeeper), Sahibzada Farhan, Adil Amin, Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Israrullah, Junaid Khan, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Mohsin, Mohammad Ilyas, Musaddiq Ahmed, Umer Khan, Usman Shinwari, Zohaib Khan, Imran Khan JR and Irfanullah Shah

Northern: Imad Wasim (captain), Umar Amin (vice-captain), Ali Imran, Asif Ali, Haider Ali, Hammad Azam, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Nawaz, Musa Khan, Naveed Malik, Rohail Nazir, Shadab Khan, Sohail Akhtar, Sohail Tanvir and Zaid Alam

Sindh: Sarfaraz Ahmed (captain and wicketkeeper), Asad Shafiq (vice-captain), Abid Ali, Ahsan Ali, Anwar Ali, Fawad Alam, Kashif Bhatti, Khurram Manzoor, Mir Hamza, Mirza Ahsan Jameel, Mohammad Hasnain, Omair Bin Yousuf, Saad Ali, Saud Shakeel, Sohail Khan and Waleed Ahmed

Southern Punjab: Shan Masood (captain), Sami Aslam (vice-captain), Amir Yamin, Bilawal Bhatti, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Abbas (subject to fitness), Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Irfan (LLS), Rahat Ali, Saif Badar, Shoaib Malik, Sohaib Maqsood, Umaid Asf, Umer Siddique, Wahab Riaz and Zahid Mahmood.