LAHORE   -   The picturesque and the most modern international level cricket playing facility of the country, the Multan Cricket Stadium (MCS), is all set to host national T20 matches from September 30 sans any spectators around the lush green ground due to novel coronavirus SOPs. 

Total 14 matches of National T20 competition would be played in Multan from September 30 to October 16 and people would be able to enjoy the game through their television sets as the matches would be broadcast live, say officials in a meeting to review arrangements for the contest with ADCG Qamar-uz-Zaman Qaisarani in the chair. 

Pakistan was one of the first nations to embrace T20 cricket and was the fourth country after England, South Africa and Sri Lanka to stage a national T20 competition. To date, the PCB has organised 16 National T20 Cup tournaments, which have brought country’s top talent to forefront and has produced some of the most iconic performances – both individual and team – ever recorded in T20 cricket. 

It is due to the talent produced by these tournaments that Pakistan has been a highly successful team at international level. They reached the final of the first two ICC Men’s T20 World Cups – in 2007 and 2009, winning the latter at Lord’s, the home of cricket, by defeating Sri Lanka to be crowned champions. Pakistan was the only team to reach at least the semi-finals of the first four ICC Men’s T20 World Cups. No team in the world has won more T20Is than Pakistan’s 93 and they were at the top of the ICC T20I Rankings for more than two years in a run that stretched until early this year. Over the course of their dominant run, Pakistan won 11 consecutive T20I series. 

The National T20 Cup has a rich history of introducing players who went on to serve Pakistan globally. The prime example being Saeed Ajmal who was man-of-the-final for taking 3 wickets in Faisalabad Wolves’ title win against Karachi Dolphins in the maiden edition of the event held in Lahore in 2005. The off-spinner later became No 1 bowler in the ICC T20I Rankings and played a vital role, taking 12 wickets, in Pakistan’s 2009 World Cup triumph. With 89 scalps, he is the leading wicket taker in the National T20 Cup’s history. 

Teams from Sialkot and Lahore have been the most successful in the National T20 Cup history. They have shared 11 out of 16 titles between them. While Sialkot Stallions have won the tournament six times, teams from Lahore have won it on five occasions. The remaining five titles have gone to Peshawar Panthers, Peshawar Region, Faisalabad Wolves, Karachi Blues and Northern.

The Lahore Lions team that won the tournament in 2014 went on to play Champions League T20 that year in India where they famously defeated Mumbai Indians by six wickets in Raipur and narrowly missed out on a semi-final berth. It was in National T20 Cup that Sialkot Stallions caught the world’s attention by winning 25 matches in a row between 2006 and 2010 – the biggest winning streak in the format’s history. They won four consecutive tournaments in that period.