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Unbeaten SNGPL favourites for QeA final

Azhar Ali raises his bat after his fifty AFP

Big Picture

Having two powerhouses in the final is hardly a big surprise. In the last four years, SNGPL have reached the final for the third time, while WAPDA look to defend their crown. Pakistan's premier first-class tournament has failed to capture the public's interest, even though the bowlers have enjoyed considerable success with the Duke ball and some fairly wild pitches.

The National Stadium Karachi hosted last year's Quaid-e-Azam trophy final, but has not been used since. The stadium is undergoing extensive renovation in preparation for the 2018 PSL final, which it is scheduled to host. The pitch began to be prepared on December 10, while the pavilion, which has not seen renovations begin, is fit for use.

Title aspirations aside, both teams' players will look for personal glory, too. Salman Butt has failed to make a national comeback, and will have every reason to stake his claim once more. With Junaid Khan's injury sidelining him for the New Zealand tour, Mohammad Irfan once again becomes a strong candidate to replace him, while Kamran Akmal has another opportunity to showcase his dominance on the domestic circuit.

SNGPL's campaign has seen them appoint three captains - Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Rizwan and Mohammad Hafeez. They have been undefeated all season, their side boasting international stars like Hafeez, Azhar Ali, Mohammad Abbas and Asad Shafiq. They go into the final as favourites, having barely put a foot wrong all season.

In the spotlight

WAPDA's fast bowlers, Mohammad Asif and Waqas Maqsood. WAPDA captain Salman Butt took the unusual step of resting his pacers on the final day of their Super 8 game after realising they had already qualified. It ended up with them losing what was by then a dead rubber. If Asif and Maqsood - who have 66 wickets between them this season - play a part in their side retaining the trophy, Butt's move will look like a masterstroke. But in the event of an adverse outcome, it could be cited as a decision that stuttered their momentum. Either way, the spotlight is firmly on the pair, and indeed their captain.

SNGPL's batting line-up contains Pakistan's two best first-class batsmen in Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq. Yet, they will have to bounce back from an extraordinary last game that saw the first three innings end only in double figures, before SNGPL chased down 70 to seal their spot in the final. They will look to perform better with the bat in what will be a five-day game, and Azhar and Shafiq will be cruicial to their prospects.

Team news

WAPDA are expected to field the same side that played their previous game. Mohammad Saad, the second-highest scorer in the tournament, has seen his form tail away in the latter stages of the competition, and will be keen to bounce back.

WAPDA (probable): 1 Salman Butt (capt), 2 Zahid Mansoor, 3 Kamran Akmal (wk), 4 Mohammad Saad, 5 Aamer Sajjad, 6 Khushdil Shah, 7 Mansoor Amjad, 8 Khalid Usman, 9 Waqas Maqsood, 10 Mohammad Asif, 11 Hasnain Shah

SNGPL have been a bit more uncertain as far as their selection goes, with their captaincy changing hands. There was speculation that Misbah might return for the final, but he put those rumours to bed, saying he did not want to disrupt a settled side. That might suggest an unchanged side for them, too.

SNGPL (possible): 1 Azhar Ali, 2 Ali Waqas, 3 Khurram Shehzad, 4 Asad Shafiq, 5 Imran Khalid, 6 Iftikhar Ahmed, 7 Mohammad Rizwan (capt & wk), 8 Mohammad Imran, 9 Samiullah Khan, 10 Azizullah, 11 Mohammad Abbas

Stats and trivia

  • None of the top five wicket-takers in the tournament has made it to the final. Mohammad Asif, playing for WAPDA, has 39 wickets and is tenth on the list.

  • SNGPL and WAPDA have both not lost any QeA final yet. SNGPL have played three finals and WAPDA played only once - in the previous season.

Quotes

"I am not playing the final as all the players in middle order are performing very well. So I don't want any of them to sit out because of me"
Misbah-ul-Haq on SNGPL's line-up

"All we want is to enjoy the game and hope to make it twice in a row"
Salman Butt, captain of defending champions WAPDA

WAPDA 4th innings Partnerships

WktRunsPlayers
1st4Salman ButtZahid Mansoor
2nd6Adnan RaeesZahid Mansoor
3rd2Zahid MansoorMohammad Saad
4th74Aamer SajjadZahid Mansoor
5th0Kamran AkmalAamer Sajjad
6th0Kamran AkmalMohammad Asif
7th0Mohammad AsifKhushdil Shah
8th25Khalid UsmanKhushdil Shah
9th38Wahab RiazKhalid Usman
10th4Khalid UsmanWaqas Maqsood

Quaid-e-Azam Trophy

Super Eight Group I
TeamMWLDPTNRR
SNGCP3201210.209
HBL311110-0.65
LhrBL312090.674
LahWh312060.128
Super Eight Group II
TeamMWLDPTNRR
WAPDA321016-0.368
UBL3210150.664
SSGC3210120.595
KRL30300-1.173
Pool A
TeamMWLDPTNRR
SNGCP7601510.175
SSGC7412430.734
LhrBL743034-0.126
WAPDA7421330.273
PeshP7330290.3
NBP714212-0.043
ISMBD714212-0.732
FSLBD70601-0.464
Pool B
TeamMWLDPTNRR
UBL7610570.713
HBL752046-0.302
KRL7421330.108
LahWh732233-0.124
Rams734024-0.428
KarWh7241180.426
PakTV715112-0.505
Feder715190.104