KARACHI: Pakistan’s most successful Test captain Misbah-ul-Haq, who retired from the international arena in June 2017, will feature in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Grade-II Cricket Tournament that starts from Friday at five venues in three cities.
The seasoned campaigner of 276 international appearances with a combined tally of 11,132 runs will once again play for Faisalabad — one of the 10 regional teams competing for honours in the event which has a total prize money of Rs950,000.
Misbah, who will turn 45 on May 28, will be in action when Faisalabad meet Azad Jammu Kashmir in the three-day Group ‘A’ fixture at the Iqbal Stadium in Faisalabad. Among his team-mates will be discarded Pakistan opener Ahmed Shehzad, who returns to competitive cricket after serving a ban imposed by the PCB.
Other teams competing in Group ‘A’ include Sialkot, Bahawalpur and Hyderabad, while Group ‘B’ consists of Karachi Blues, Abbottabad, Quetta, Larkana and Dera Murad Jamali. While Group ‘A’ matches will be held in Faisalabad and the Mirpur Cricket Stadium in Azad Kashmir, Group ‘B’ games are scheduled in Karachi at UBL Sports Complex, NBP Sports Complex and SBP Sports Complex.
The semi-finals will be played in Faisalabad and Mirpur while the four-day final from Feb 6 will be contested in Faisalabad with the winners of that fixture earning a place in next season’s Quaid-i-Azam Trophy (Grade-I) National Cricket Championship.
Meanwhile, Misbah said on Thursday he was keen to help Faisalabad qualify for the premier first-class tournament.
“The biggest motivation for me is to help Faisalabad regain their [lost] Grade-I spot after we were relegated in the 2017-18 season and our aim is to qualify for first-class cricket again; this is what we can strive to do for our region,” the retired Pakistan legend stated in a PCB media release.
Misbah further remarked that he is very keen on transferring his vast cricketing experience to the upcoming young players, while hoping the competitive nature of this tournament will help him in the Pakistan Super League in which he will be representing Peshawar Zalmi after leading two-time champions Islamabad United in the previous three editions.
“Such events also provide an opportunity to work with younger players, to spend time with them to work on their game and transfer experience. On a personal note the tournament should help me prepare for the HBL PSL,” Misbah opined. “I feel that the tournament will help Ahmed Shahzad regain confidence and prepare him well for the PSL because the tournaments such as this provide great opportunity of spending long time at the crease and improving one’s game.”
Meanwhile, Shehzad said he was raring to play again and was hopeful of making a big impact ahead of an action-packed cricketing year. “The last few months were very tough for me. I badly missed playing cricket especially since the sport is a childhood passion of mine and an integral part of my life. I am more focused than ever and have worked hard on improving my mindset and other aspects of the game.”
Jan 11-13: Sialkot vs Bahawalpur (Mirpur Cricket Stadium, AJK); Faisalabad vs AJK (Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad); Karachi Blues vs Larkana (SBP Sports Complex, Karachi); Abbottabad vs Quetta (NBP Sports Complex, Karachi).
Jan 15-17: Bahawalpur vs Hyderabad (Mirpur Cricket Stadium); Faisalabad vs Sialkot (Iqbal Stadium); Abbottabad vs Larkana (UBL Sports Complex); Quetta vs DMJ (SBP Sports Complex).
Jan 19-21: Faisalabad vs Bahawalpur (Iqbal Stadium); AJK vs Hyderabad (Mirpur Cricket Stadium); Karachi Blues vs Abbottabad (UBL Sports Complex); Larkana vs DMJ (NBP Sports Complex).
Jan 23-25: Sialkot vs Hyderabad (Iqbal Stadium); AJK vs Bahawalpur (Mirpur Cricket Stadium); Karachi Blues vs Quetta (UBL Sports Complex); Abbottabad vs DMJ (SBP Sports Complex).
Jan 27-29: Faisalabad vs Hyderabad (Iqbal Stadium); AJK vs Sialkot (Mirpur Cricket Stadium); Karachi Blues vs DMJ (NBP Sports Complex); Quetta vs Larkana (UBL Sports Complex).
Feb 1-3: First semi-final — Group ‘A’ winners vs Group ‘B’ runners-up (Iqbal Stadium); Second semi-final — Group ‘B’ winners vs Group ‘A’ runners-up (Mirpur Cricket Stadium).
Feb 6-9: Final (Iqbal Stadium, Faisalabad).