Faysal Bank T20 Cup, 2011 October 1, 2011

Unfancied sides battle for top honours


Match facts

Lahore Eagles v Sialkot Stallions, October 1, 1st semi-final, Karachi
Start time 1600 (1100 GMT)
Peshawar Panthers v Rawalpindi Rams, October 1, 2nd semi-final, Karachi
Start time 2000 (1500 GMT)

Big Picture

The 2011 Faysal Bank T20 Cup has thrown up a few surprises in the group stage of the competition, with pre-tournament favourites, Karachi Dolphins, and defending champions, Lahore Lions, both falling by the wayside before the semi-finals.

The draw had seemed to favour Karachi, who were in the same group as depleted teams such as Islamabad Leopards and Peshawar Panthers, but Twenty20 is the most fickle form of the game. Sialkot Stallions, the five-time-champions, are finally back in the spotlight after thumping Lahore Lions and Quetta Bears, while Rawalpindi Rams beat Faisalabad Wolves to extend their winning streak and ease into the semi-finals.

Most of the games have been played in front of just a few thousand spectators at the National Stadium in Karachi, but a couple of contests that involved the home team, led by Shahid Afridi, had close to overflowing stands. Karachi, though, did not make the semi-finals, and it remains to be seen how many fans turn up to watch the final few matches.

Watch out for …

Sialkot's 18-year-old Raza Hasan, a left-arm spinner who last appeared for Rawalpindi, has consistently been called up for the national side but has never been handed the opportunity to kick-start his international career. A good showing here could help his chances.

Out of favour Pakistan fast bowler Umar Gul, who is captaining Peshawar, also has a point to prove to win back his place in the national side.

Team news

In the absence of seasoned campaigners Naved-ul-Hasan and Abdul Rehman, Sialkot lost their way in 2010, but the pair are back this year and the team, led by Shoaib Malik, have set their sights on re-establishing their dominance in the format. "We were missing several key players for the last couple of events, but particularly with Rana [Naved-ul-Hasan] making his way back into the squad, and Raza [Hasan, who has shifted to Sialkot from Rawalpindi], we have good additions to our squad this year," captain Shoaib Malik told ESPNcricinfo. "We definitely have our sights on regaining our lost glory as former champions, but [right now] our focus is currently on the semi-final."

Rawalpindi are the defending champions and have responded well to the pressure of trying to retain their title, winning all three of their league games. Though they are a young side, they have not been overawed by the occasion and their strength in depth makes them a definite threat to repeat.

Stats and trivia

  • Rawalpindi Rams and Lahore Eagles are the only teams with two batsmen aggregating over 100 runs so far in the tournament
  • Sialkot Stallions' Sarfraz Ahmed's 4 for 13 against Hyderabad Hawks is the best bowling figures in the tournament


"It's all about the right combination. The Twenty20 format is a unique form of game that requires being on your toes all the way while batting or fielding and [the right] combination means a lot. You can't afford to be complacent with even a single ball."
Shoaib Malik, Sialkot Stallions' captain, on how important team selection is for a Twenty20 game

"We weren't one of the fancied teams going into this tournament, but we have shown that we are a match for any team in this competition."
Lahore Eagles coach Manzoor Elahi is unfazed at the prospect of playing Sialkot

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on October 2, 2011, 3:37 GMT

    "Unfancied sides battle for top honours" untill 1980s cricketers were only coming in Pakistan team from Karachi and Lahore only.After CWC92 win cricketers start coming from almost all parts of country,In last 7 years Stallions of Sialkot are the major team in T20 and any of Lhr or Karachi are to play in the finals of domestic t20 against sialkot most of times. This is first time that both big cities are thrown badly out of tournament. its a very healthy sign for pakistani cricket as it is flourishing in small cities as well.

  • ahmed on October 1, 2011, 14:42 GMT

    @ arbi hussain..ru realy watching faysal bank t20 tournament..imran is in all 3 matches of sialkot stallions.

  • Junaid on October 1, 2011, 14:30 GMT

    Lahore Lions and Sialkot have already played the final at group stage. It was a shame to keep 2 favourites in the same group. Karachi missed a great chance as they were in the weakest group so they should have reached the finals easily. Let's hope RAMS or Panthers can make a good final with Sialkot.

  • Dummy4 on October 1, 2011, 13:30 GMT

    Out of favour Umar Gul? Please do some basic research before publishing such inaccurate statements. He has been rested. He is Pakistan's #1 fast bowler currently

  • Dummy4 on October 1, 2011, 11:25 GMT

    please tell somebody .....why imran nazir is not playing in sialkot

  • Dummy4 on October 1, 2011, 10:42 GMT

    Well em loving the tornament so far cox Shoaib Maliks Sialkot Stallions Are On their way for glory.....But was so glad watching Afridis Team out of tournament....:P

  • Dummy4 on October 1, 2011, 10:33 GMT

    it could have been much better if pool were made in a way that no good team is booted in league stages..Final will be between Stallions and rams..let the zoo live long :-)

  • Dummy4 on October 1, 2011, 10:17 GMT

    Watch out for the betting on matches

  • Dummy4 on October 1, 2011, 9:01 GMT

    i m a Lahori but Go Pindi Go win this one as well.For me the final should feature Panthers and Rams.Hate to see Stallions winning this tournament

  • Dummy4 on October 1, 2011, 8:37 GMT

    Since when was Umar Gul out of favour? The comments in the article suggest the writer does not follow Pakistan cricket. He was rested for the Zimbabwe tour and he has been an integral part of the Pakistan team. Making comments like these only suggest that comments are being made just for the sake of it. Please pay attention to the facts.

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