KARACHI: A record total of 111 outfits from all over Pakistan will compete for honours when the 18th edition of the National Seniors Cricket Cup begins from Saturday with Karachi Omar Associates taking on fellow Southern Zone rivals Karachi Blues in the inaugural fixture at the Lawai Cricket Stadium in Naya Nazimabad.
While unveiling details of the competition at the Karachi Gymkhana here on Thursday, Fawad Ijaz Khan, chairman of Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association (PVCA) observed there will a staggering total of 210 matches will be played during the coming weeks.
“The response to this event is getting bigger each time we plan to organise the tournament under the aegis of PVCA. This explains the popularity veteran cricket has attained. Teams from Karachi to Fata will all bid to clinch the trophy this time,” Fawad told a media conference. “The final of the coming competition will be held in Lahore since Karachi hosted the previous title-deciding fixture. We are hoping to telecast that game live.”
The event is being sponsored by Omar Associates (Pvt) Ltd, with Arif Habib Group the co-sponsors.
Fawad further remarked that the total expenditure on the tournament is being estimated to be in excess of Rs four million which includes the prize money of Rs693,000. He explained that the operational costs were on the higher side while organising the Northern Zone matches.
Similarly the prize money for the Northern Zone fixtures will be Rs268,500 compared to Rs157,000 for the Southern Zone.
He added there would an additional allocation of Rs268,500 on offer during the national final, to be contested between the champions of North Zone and South Zone, in Lahore on Jan 29.
Nadeem Omar, owner PSL franchise Quetta Gladiators who is also managing director of Omar Associates, has consented to be the chief guest at the inaugural match of the Southern Zone.
In a brief speech on Thursday, Nadeem praised the PVCA for undertaking another gigantic project and wished them success.
“To be honest, it is an extremely tough to organise an event of this magnitude in which teams from every nook and corner of the country are eager to take part. It’s quite an achievement to do it every year,” he complimented. “Apart the Seniors Cup, the PVCA had also undertaken the arduous yet thankless task of holding the Inter-school tournament which was truly commendable. As sponsor, we will continue supporting all their endeavours aimed at promoting the game at all levels.”
Arif Habib, chairman of Arif Habib Group and the designated director of Pakistan Super League also spoke on the occasion.
Also present during the briefing were PVCA directors Alamgir Ahmed, Amjad Islam, Mujahid Hamid and Shariq Haseeb as well senior cricket analysts Qamar Ahmed and Chishty Mujahid, former Test players Sadiq Mohammad and Nadeem Khan.
The teams participating in forthcoming tournament represent 54 cities and have been divided into 33 pools. The participants include 37 teams from Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad, 14 from Karachi, 13 from the interior of Sindh and four from Baluchistan.
The league matches in the Southern Zone will be of 20 overs-a-side whereas Zonal & National Finals will be of 30 overs per innings. The group matches will be organised on a single league basis. The matches of Northern Zone will be played at Rawalpindi, Bahawalpur, Multan, Okara, Lahore, Kasur, Sheikhupura, Muridke, Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Sialkot while the Southern Zone matches will be taking place at Karachi, Hyderabad, Shikarpur, Mirpurkhas, Kotri, Nawabshah and Quetta.
Since becoming flagship event of the PVCA in 1998, the annual competition has resulted in both Karachi and Lahore teams winning eight titles each while the trophy was once shared after the national final ended in a tie.