Umar Gul-led Sindh are in high spirits and hope to re-write Pakistan Cup history when the five-team tournament gets underway at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi, on 2 April.
Sindh have never made it to the final in the past three editions. They finished third in 2016 and 2017, and fourth in 2018.
Umar is a fan of Pakistan Cup and, as a leader, his aim is to make Sindh prosper and challenge the other teams with the target of turning the team’s fortunes around.
“I really like the Pakistan Cup, it is one of our leading 50-over competitions. I have good understanding with most of the players and as a captain, as a leader, I have full confidence in my team. It should be a really competitive tournament as all five teams are well-balanced and look strong,” said Umar, who played 47 Tests, 130 ODIs and 60 T20Is between 2003 and 2016.
Umar had a decent outing for Balochistan in last year’s Pakistan Cup, when he collected four wickets in as many games. He took third spot in the bowlers’ chart in 2017 with seven wickets, while he claimed six wickets in 2016.
Umar had faith in his team’s bowling strength, which also included promising young fast bowler Mohammad Ilyas and experienced Junaid Khan and Rahat Ali.
Left-arm spinner Nauman Ali, who represented Multan Sultans in the Pakistan Super League 2019, and Ashiq Ali are the spin bowling options available to Umar.
Umar also backed his batting line-up to deliver the goods at the Pindi Cricket Stadium. “Our batting is very strong too with experienced batsmen like Umar Amin and Umar Siddiq, who can also keep wickets along with Mohammad Hassan.”
The Sindh squad also have hard-hitting middle-order batsman Asif Ali in their ranks. The right-hander has represented Pakistan in 11 ODIs and 19 T20Is, and is known for his six-hitting abilities, having already hit 12 in his short ODI career to date while scoring 200 runs at a strike rate of 130.71.
Pakistan Cup 2018 provided phenomenal success for the Faisalabad-born Asif as he accumulated 328 runs in four innings at 109.33 and a strike-rate of 128.12. The tally included two centuries as Asif took full toll on the bowlers in his own backyard, Faisalabad’s Iqbal Stadium, finishing as the second-highest run-getter behind Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Khurram Manzoor.
Federal Areas will defend the title, while Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan are the other competing teams in the tournament. All 11 matches of the tournament will be played at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, with the top two sides from the single-league competition progressing to the 12 April final.
SQUAD: Umar Gul (captain), Ahsan Ali, Amir Yamin, Ashiq Ali, Asif Ali, Hammad Azam, Imran Rafiq, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Hassan (WK), Mohammad Ilyas, Nauman Ali, Rahat Ali, Sahibzada Farhan, Umar Amin and Umar Siddiq (WK)