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Pentangular Cup final: Balochistan likely to pose stiff challenge to Sindh

LAHORE, March 14: Fresh from their 144-run win in a crucial match against the Federal Areas, the Sindh team is set to face a strong Balochistan side now in the five-day final of the Faysal Bank Pentangular Cup which begins at the Gaddafi Stadium from Tuesday.

While Sindh confirmed the place in the final after their crushing win over Federal Areas, Balochistan who were once at top of the points table, entered the final after the tournament`s weakest outfit of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa stunned a strong Punjab side with an eight-wicket defeat in the last league-match.

Both the sides are balanced in every department and a batting-friendly wicket is likely to welcome them when they lock horns in the five-day final.

Sindh have a strong batting line-up that includes Fawad Alam who has been the top run-getter of the tournament so far with an aggregate of 440 at an excellent average of 88.00, wicket-keeper batsman Sarfraz Ahmad who is the second highest scorer with aggregate of 374 with the only double-century of the tournament to his credit, Faisal Iqbal (243 runs at 40.50 average), Hasan Raza (235 runs at 39.16), captain Khalid Latif (233) and Khurram Manzoor.

The bowling department is also looking good with Test discard Mohammad Sami heading it. He has captured 14 wickets in the tourney so far for 216 runs at an average of 15.42.

Sohail Khan (13 wickets for 370 runs) and Anwar Ali are the other fast bowlers in Sindh team. There is, of course, Test spinner Danish Kaneria who with his leg-spin has till now bagged 21 wickets at 18.09 average.

Balochistan also boast some good names in the batting line-up such as Saeed Anwar Junior, who had aggregated 324 runs at 40.50 average with one century and two fifties as well as Sohaib Maqsood (250 runs) and upcoming batsmen in Zain Abbas, Naveed Yasin, Abid Ali.

The fast bowling department is also quite competitive headed by Abdur Rauf who is supported by Mohammad Irfan and Rizwan Haider. Rauf, who is also leading Balochistan, is a Test discard and a seasoned domestic figure. So far he has taken 18 wickets at an average of 23.11 in the tournament.

He is the most successful bowler of the domestic season, having 549 wickets to its credit, but has sadly been out of favour with the national selectors. Though Irfan is not in great form, left-arm fast Rizwan Haider is doing well and he has taken 10 wickets in the tournament.

Left-arm spinner Zulifqar Babar, who is the top wicket-taker of the event with 23 scalps at 17.65 average will be a great threat for Sindh. Another leg-spinner Imranullah Aslam will assist Zulifqar in the spin department.

A total cash prize of Rs1.75 million is at stake, with the winners set to get one million while the losing side will receive half a million. The best batsman, bowler, wicket-keeper, and fielder and the Man-of-the-Final, will also receive a prize of Rs50,000 each.

However, the main concern of the two teams is the balls, which are being used in the tournament. It is made of by a local company. Dawn

The balls were not of high quality and had to be changed after short spells in the previous matches of the tournament, some bowlers told .

“Almost eight balls are being used in one match, due to their poor quality,” they further said.

International umpire Nadeem Ghouri and Ahsan Raza will supervise the match. Musaddaq Rasool is the referee while Azhar Hussain is the scorer.