Sialkot Stallions have once again created history by winning the RBS T20 Tournament for the 5th time in a row. Around 30,000 fans occupied the National Stadium seats with hundreds pondering on the rooftops and outside the stadium trying to get a piece of the action, whereas millions watched from the comfort of there house. Who would have expected this much attendance for a domestic tournament in Pakistan. The star studded Stallions were clear favorites before the beginning of the tournament, the reason behind was the inclusion of 7 International Pakistani cricketers in the team. That is a little too much for a domestic team and once again they proved it by showing there dominance in the countries most competitive T20 tournament. Some adjustments are definitely required to be done in constituting the squads of these teams.
Faisalabad won the toss and elected to bat first, it took 1 ball for Mohammad Asif to warm up as he blew away the stumps of Asif Hussain on the 2nd delivery of the match. Then came in the most recent acquisition of Sialkot Stallions Abdul Razzaq who had just severed ties with his home team Lahore Lions. After being demoted by the Lions Razzaq was happy to move to the powerful team of Sialkot Stallions, after all who doesn’t want to be a champion. Abdul Razzaq showed his worth throughout the tournament and was one of the major reasons for the dominance shown by Sialkot Stallions. In the final match Razzaq was able to bag two important early breakthroughs that sent Faisalabad tottering into deep trouble with 3 wickets down and just 19 runs on board. The trouble never seemed to cease and eventually Faisalabad ended up with 109/9 thanks to two little cameos by the in form Mohamad Hafeez and Captain Misbah Ul Haq. All of Stallions bowler were disciplined and got fruit for it, Asif ending up with figures 1/9 off 4 overs at an economy rate of just 2.25 was simply outstanding considering it was a T20 match.
Sialkot started the chase in an aggressive manner when Imran Nazir hit the first two balls for a six & a four. Wanting to hit the 3rd Ball out of the National Stadium Karachi Imran Nazir was caught by Asif Hussain at cover only slimming his chance of selection for the upcoming T20 World Cup in the Caribbean. Rana Naved was promoted to number 3 position due to his form with the bat but also took the credit of running out his partner at the other end making it to 18/2. Stallions were never found in trouble up until Shoaib Malik’s dismissal when they were sent to 56/4. The always reliable Razzaq kept a cool head and ensured that Stallions reach a comfortable position. The Sialkot Stallions became champions for the 5th time in a row with 3.3 overs to spare and 5 wickets remaining.
Abdul Razzaq was declared the man of the match for his all-round performance whereas Mohammad Hafeez was declared the Batsman of the series for his outstanding form throughout the tournament, Hafeez was stupendous in making a statement to the chairman of selectors for the openers position in the upcoming T20 World Cup. The failure of Imran Nazir who was just able to score 54 runs at an average of 13.50 in the 4 innings that he played has definitely set out an alarm in the heads of the selectors and there might be a contest between Mohammad Hafeez & Imran Nazir for that opening position in the National side, statistically & honestly speaking Hafeez deserves that spot ahead of Imran. Naved Ul Hassan surprised with the bat as well by becoming the second highest scorer in the tournament just shows the class of the opposition bowlers in the tournament that Sialkot had to face. Aizaz Cheema won the award for the best bowler in the tournament by taking 11 wickets in four games. Saeed Ajmal was second to him who had a great tournament and was able to grab 9 wickets at an economy rate of just 4.25 which is exceptional in T20 Cricket.
There has been talk in the PCB of replacing and possibly expanding the current RBS T20 tournament with Pakistan Super League where foreign players might be included. Monetary awards are expected to be bigger. The negative aspect being the tournament might not be held in Pakistan, as we are well aware of the security concerns shown by foreign players. The success of RBS T20 2010 might have definitely given second thoughts to the PCB management, nevertheless this tournament has proved that Cricket is alive in Pakistan.