KARACHI: After being whipped by Islamabad in their last round outing in their own backyard on Tuesday, holders Peshawar will face last year’s runners-up Karachi Whites in the first semi-final of the National One-day Cup for Regions at the Pindi Stadium in Rawalpindi on Thursday (today).It is expected to be a crunch battle as both sides have the services of a handful of fine cricketers who have represented the Pakistan team.
Karachi Whites are expected to continue with their top form as they finished at the top of the points table with ten points and with a decent net run-rate that has enabled them to finish at the summit by surpassing Rawalpindi and Peshawar who also have ten points each.
Karachi Whites’ seasoned opener Khurram Manzoor and skipper Asad Shafiq are in great form as the duo in the entire league round in general and in the last two rounds in particular have done a remarkable job with the bat. Khurram hit centuries in both his previous two matches which also includes 187, his highest List A feat.
And Asad, who hit fifty in the last game, had also scored 145, his career-best in the second last outing of the league round. They have also in their ranks accomplished right-handed batsman Akbar-ur-Rehman who has also proved himself in the entire eight-team event and so is Fawad Alam, the left-handed guru who has the ability to click where others fail.
In bowling, besides Test pacer Mohammad Sami, Karachi Whites also enjoy the services of solid medium pacers Rahat Ali, Zia-ul-Haq, Anwar Ali and reliable spinner Mohammad Asghar.
Peshawar, which will be led by international stumper Mohammad Rizwan, will have to toil hard to regain their prestige following their humiliating defeat at the hands of Islamabad at Arbab Niaz Stadium in Peshawar on Tuesday which also enabled the federal capital to qualify for the semi-finals, a result which was highly unlikely.
The result has also raised many eyebrows and some sources also say that non-deserving players were played by Peshawar against Islamabad.Peshawar will mainly rely on their batting having in-form opener Sahibzada Farhan, Israrullah, Ashfaq Ahmed and Mohammad Rizwan.
In bowling, they have left-arm pacer Taj Wali, Test pacer Imran Khan Senior, young pacers Shah Faisal and Azizullah. Asif Yaqoob and Rashid Riaz will supervise the match, while Aziz-ur-Rehman will be the match referee and Shakeel Ahmed, the official scorer.In the other semi-final to be held on Friday (tomorrow), Islamabad will meet Rawalpindi at the same venue. The final will be held on February 11.