Tuesday, September 23, 2008

RBS takes over Cricket in Pakistan!

The PCB recently launched the Royal Bank of Scotland 20-20 Cup that will kick off on 4th October in Lahore.

Finally some cricket!

Who would have thought that the global financial crisis would affect cricket in Pakistan.

ABN Amro has sponsored domestic cricket in Pakisan for the last 3 years, however with its take over by RBS, all cricket in Pakistan will now be sponsored by them.

Royal Bank of Scotland sponsoring cricket in Pakistan. That sounds strange doesn't it?

The PCB definitely needs some new sponsors!

This is the 4th edition of the domestic 20-20 tournament in Pakistan and the winners of this event will be given a ticket to participate in the 20-20 Champions League in December where they will be pitted against the Rajasthan Royals, Chennai Super Kings, Victoria Bushrangers, Western Australia Warriors, Nashua Dolphins, Nashua Titans, and Middlesex.

The Sialkot Stallions, led by Pakistan skipper Shoaib Malik, are the defending champions and will in fact be looking for a hatrick of titles in this years 20-20 tournament.

The Stallions, however, are significantly depleted this time around without the services of Mohammad Asif (doped out), Imran Nazir (ICL), and Rana Naveed (ICL).

Mansoor Amjad, Abdur Rehman, Kamran Younis, Sarfraz Ahmed (left arm quick), and Qaiser Abbas will provide good support to Malik, but without the top 3 players and no Shehzad Malik, the Stallions do not look like the same team that won the last two 20-20 cups.

Karachi Dolphins look like the strongest side in the competition. Led by Shahid Afridi the team includes Khurram Manzoor, Khalid Latif, Fawad Alam, Sarfraz Ahmed, Sohail Khan, Naumanullah, and Anwar Ali.

That is quite a formidable combination and Afridi would be looking to add another domestic title to his cap after the Pentangular Trophy earlier this year.

Karachi Zebras, led by Faisal Iqbal, are not as strong as the other Karachi side, with the only players with some international experience being Asim Kamal and Shadab Kabir.

The Zebras have also been hurt by the bans on ICL players with Hasan Raza and Mohammad Sami missing in action.

Faisalabad Wolves, captained by Misbah Ul Haq, under whom they won the first edition of the tournament and were the runners up of the 2nd have also been hit by the ICL bans.

They lose out on one of their most reliable batsmen in Naveed Latif and their attack bowler Shahid Nazir.

Despite that they still remain a relatively strong side with Mohammad Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal, and Samiullah Khan in the ranks along with one of the best 20-20 players in the world - their skipper Misbah.

Mohammad Yousuf, who has a point to prove despite saying he doesn't, will be captaining the Lahore Lions, which is another strong outfit with Salman Butt, Nasir Jamshed, Kamran Akmal, Umar Akmal, Ahmed Shehzad, Wahab Riaz, and Junaid Zia in the line up.

They will be missing Abdul Razzak due to the ICL ban, but remain a strong team despite that.

The Lahore Eagles, on the other hand, have been hurt quite badly due to the ICL bans. Openers Imran Farhat and Taufeeq Umar along with keeper Humayun Farhat will be missing from action.

The Eagles don't have any international experience on their side and will be reliant on Azhar Ali, who was one of the leading scorers of the last domestic season.

Multan Tigers will be captained by Abdur Rauf, the pacer who has played a few ODIs. The only other international is Kamran Hussain, the allrounder who played a few ODIs against Zimbabwe earlier this year.

The Rawal Pindi Rams will be led by experienced domestic campaigner Naved Ashraf.

The Rams look stronger than they have in previous years particularly on the bowling front with their line up including the IPL Bowler of the tournament, Sohail Tanvir, along with Yasir Arafat, and the U19 left armer Mohammad Aamer who has been praised highly by Wasim Akram.

Islamabad Leopards have been boosted with the inclusion of Shoaib Akhtar after the usual PCB confusion over selection matters, however how many matches he will play is anybodys guess.

The Leopards' side also includes U19 skipper Imad Wasim and promising U19 stars Raheel Majeed and Afaq Rahim. Bazid Khan, who was one of the leading run scorers in the last domestic season adds to the Leaopards' strength.

The Peshawar Panthers have always been a strong side with a number of international players in their ranks, however they have never lived up to their expectations on the domestic circuit.

Umar Gul was announced to captain them, however with the indecisive Younis Khan confirming his availability the captaincy might land in his laps.

Along with these 2 the Panthers side also includes Yasir Hameed, Fazl-e-Akbar, Wajahatullah Wasti and leading domestic players Rafatullah Mohmand and Jannisar Khan.

The Abbottabad Rhinos, Quetta Bears, and Hyderabad Hawks are the relatively weaker sides in the competition with no international experience to boast of.

The 13 teams have been placed in 4 pools:

Group A: Wolves, Rhinos, Eagles, Dolphins ---> the fish will devour up the wild ones.
Group B: Zebras, Stallions, Hawks ---> what are the birds doing between the horses?
Group C: Leapards, Panthers, Tigers ---> all the cats in one!
Group D: Lions, Bears, Rams ---> poor rams left to be eaten.

The group games will be played between October 4th and 6th, with the winners of each group making it to the semi finals, to be played on the 7th. The final will be on 8th October.

The bans placed on the ICL players have depleted a number of teams in this tournament.

I think the absence of players like Razak, Imran Nazir, Taufeed Umar, Naveed Latif, Imran Farhat, Humayun Farhat, Riaz Afridi, Shahid Nazir, Mohammad Sami, Hasan Raza will take the shine off the tournament to some extent.

All these players are big names on the domestic circuit and have done exceptionally well at the 20-20 level in the past.

Without them the annual 20-20 tournament doesn't remain the star studded affair that it used to be.

On the bright side though, it does bring some cricket back to Pakistan.

The fans have always thronged to the stadiums during these 20-20 tournaments and I would expect the same this time round, particularly with all the internationals confirming their availability.

On top, the stakes are higher this time - the champions get to play the best 20-20 teams from the world in the inaugral 20-20 Champions League in December.

The action starts on the 4th - We'll keep you updated.

Make your pitch on this post...

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4 Pitched:

  1. straight point said...

    am happy that at least there will be some action...and i am also happy the bcci and pcb have finalized (or about to) the next india tour...

    let us show the world that all fears regarding security are mere speculations at it best...

  2. Soulberry said...

    Good news! RBS is looking to make its Asian entry through cricket. They have also signed up Sachin as brand ambassador here in India for their India operations.

    I hope Pakistan cricket is back strong and healthy....Pakistan needs games.

  3. Anonymous said...

    Their india operations have also started.. a big office on the outskirts of Chennai... Is this a high profile bank? Anyone?

  4. Q said...

    RBS i probably big in UK and I guess Europe, but not sure. Their international exposure is definitely limited but with the acquisiton of ABN Amro they now have a number of markers under their belt including the Middle East, Pakistan, and India.

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