Inzamam expects exciting battle in National T20 Cup

LAHORE: Noting that best regional squads have been selected through player draft for the upcoming National Twenty20 Cup, chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq is anticipating quality cricket in the national event.

“Coaches, captains and selectors of the regions have tried their utmost to choose best team combinations [for the National T20 Cup] and so I look forward to healthy and enthralling contests,” Inzamam said while talking to reporters after the player draft ceremony for the event was held here at a local hotel on Thursday.

“A number of senior players have also been included for the event which will surely make the squads balanced.”

The National T20 Cup, featuring eight teams from seven regions, will be held in two phases, first in Multan (Aug 25-31) and then in Faisalabad (Sept 4-10) after the Eid-ul-Azha break.

When asked whether preference should be given to junior players in place of seniors in the National T20 Cup in order to explore future stars for national team, Inzamam, a 119-Test veteran, agreed.

“Yes, this suggestion needs to be pondered over, and we must prefer upcoming players to seniors. Young players are more energetic and passionate and they perform more enthusiastically in Twenty20 format,” he said.

According to some reports, Inzamam, during the player drafting process on the occasion, got angry at the selection of a player for Lahore Blues team.

When Inzamam was asked about it, he said, “I, being the chief selector, see things differently. I don’t want youngsters in a team, where already there are great players, as it will deprive them [youngsters] of showcasing their prowess properly.

“That’s why, I wanted each region to select a balanced squad, where every young and upcoming player gets the best chance to prove their mettle.”

Meanwhile, Inzamam was sophisticated when asked whether the ICC Champions Trophy-winning squad would be retained for the forthcoming series against Sri Lanka in the UAE or top performers of the National T20 Cup would also be considered for national selection.

“Whenever a player performs well in a national event, we can’t name him in the national team the very next day. Rather we need to observe them for at least one year, and during that period if they [top performers of domestic circuit] produce good performance consistently, they must be considered for the national team,” the chief selector reckoned.

“And secondly, if the national team requires the services of talented players during an international series, we will have a very good back-up and in that case, we can surely give some of those top performers [of domestic circuit] a chance in the national team,” he underlined.

Commenting on Pakistan’s spectacular victory in the ICC Champions Trophy, Inzamam said the feat would give the players confidence.

“Thank God, we won the Champions Trophy for which all credit goes to the boys, who succeeded in achieving the great feat. This victory besides boosting the players’ morale will also help them improve their game which will ultimately lead to consistently impressive performance by the team.”

Inzamam, however, also urged the national team players to forget the Champions Trophy win and continue working hard for future assignments.

“As the competition is very tough, the players will have to work really hard to keep their place in the team. We [now] have a very good back-up in the shape of promising youngsters who are capable of replacing any senior. Therefore, every player needs to do well and try to contribute his part in making the national team reach top spot,” Inzamam said.

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Azhar Hashmi

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