Head coaches aim for player development in Quaid-e-Azam Trophy

KARACHI: Playing exciting, hard and competitive cricket is in the minds of the six head coaches as Pakistan gears up to stage the four-day first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy after successfully delivering the National T20 Cup during the Covid-19 times.

The six head coaches, after selecting strong and balanced squads, have now shifted their attention to on-field action, hoping they will be able to create an environment and culture that will contribute in the overall uplifting of Pakistan’s domestic cricket.

Apart from winning the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, the jewel in the crown of Pakistan’s domestic season, the coaches are also committed to contribute in the overall player development so that they can play their part in narrowing the gap with international cricket.

Balochistan head coach Faisal Iqbal: “I am pleased with the squad we have chosen, the concept of First and Second XIs is all about player development and exposure. I have seen this model work very well in England and I am sure it will reap rewards in Pakistan in due course.

“Our long term plan is to develop players from Balochistan and to give exposure to as many players from the province as possible.

“I have given roles to the players and have spoken to them in detail about the expectations from them, the seniors and players from other regions who are representing the side will be expected to share their experience, knowledge and comfort the young and upcoming players especially the young talent from Balochistan like Abdul Wahid Bangalzai.

“We played the National T20 Cup with the same mindset and I am hopeful that with a balanced squad we can both groom players for future and do very well in the most prestigious first-class tournament in the country.”

Central Punjab head coach Shahid Anwar: “We groomed a lot of young players in the National T20 Cup, the likes of Abdullah Shafiq, Qasim Akram, Irfan Khan and Sohaibullah. We want to carry the same mindset in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, of course with a mindset of winning the tournament as we are the defending champions.

“Our foremost objective would be to play positive cricket and retain the trophy and we will work very hard in that regard.

“While a lot of our players are representing Pakistan in the Zimbabwe series and are unavailable at least in the first few rounds, we are still confident of delivering the goods. Ahmed Shehzad is back in our fold while Hasan Ali is also making a comeback.

“Azhar will be leading the side, so we have some top-class and richly experienced players returning while we have also picked performers from Second XI. We are really looking forward to an exciting season of four-day cricket.”

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa head coach Abdul Razzaq: “We have tried to cover all bases considering the pitches and conditions in Karachi. We have a good combination of established senior players and some upcoming junior players. I think my players to watch out for would be Mohammad Mohsin, Sameen Gul and Sajid Khan who did very well last season.

“The brand of cricket we played in the National T20 Cup, we would like to play the same brand in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. Our aim is to groom players who can represent Pakistan in Test cricket in the years ahead. We have prepared well and will spend the next few days further polishing our skills before the start of tournament’s first-round.”

Northern head coach Mohammad Wasim: “We have good combination of senior and junior players; we will be providing a lot of chances to the young players especially since a lot of our frontline players will be playing for Pakistan in the ongoing season, while there are a few who would make the Shaheens side that also has a tour planned this season.

“This means, that a lot of young and new players who didn’t get many opportunities last season would be playing and showcasing theirs skills in the four-day format.

“One of our aims would be to play aggressive and attacking cricket and maintain the kind of strike-rates we had last season, this mindset is in line with modern day cricket requirements where a fast scoring pace is maintained in Test match cricket.”

Sindh head coach Basit Ali: “We qualified for the semi-finals of the National T20 Cup and while the four-day format is entirely different to T20, we still have the quality and depth in our squad to do well.

“We have Asad Shafiq and Fawad Alam in the squad who are part of the Test side. Mohammad Hasnain is serving the national team, in Saud Shakeel and Omair Bin Yousaf we have two quality young players who are ready to go to the next level.

“Likewise, we have very good young players in the Second XI who will provide back-up to the seniors, we have started well in the Second XI competition and I will be keenly monitoring the performances of the players in that competition and utilise the services of the players as and when needed.

“We will work very hard on our fitness and fielding as these are the two areas we need to improve on. They were not up to the mark in the National T20 Cup as a lot of players were coming back after a long Covid-19 induced break.”

Southern Punjab head coach Abdur Rehman: “Southern Punjab is fully prepared and ready for the first-class competition. We have selected a good bunch of senior and junior players and I really like the combination we have been able to create.

“Our batsmen like Shan Masood, Zeeshan Ashraf, Hussain Talat, Saif Badar and Imran Rafiq are capable performers and we expect them to do very well for us.

“We have got good all-rounders and a potent bowling combination which includes Mohammad Abbas, Zahid Mahmood and Mohammad Irfan (Left-Arm-Spinner). We have picked Dilbar Hussain from the Second XI as we feel he has the potential to do well in the first-class format.

“I am confident that our team will deliver the goods in the tournament and we will also succeed in grooming a few players for international cricket.”