The 50th edition of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Pakistan's premier domestic competition gets underway today, with 22 teams, comprising nine departments and 13 regions, in the fray.
Eight matches will be played today, with the key clashes being the Group A match between Habib Bank Limited (HBL) and Pakistan Customs, and the Group B match between Karachi Blues and Rawalpindi.
The two matches in Karachi have been postponed to tomorrow in light of the bomb blasts on Thursday (October 18) which killed approximately 140 people and injured hundreds.
Two teams from the Gas departments, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Ltd (SNGPL), and Sui Southern Gas Company Ltd (SSGC), will be making their debuts at the top-grade. SSGC qualified for the first-class circuit after winning the Patron's Trophy Grade-II Championship title last season.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Customs has included three overseas players in its squad- Rawait Khan, Bilal Shafayat, and Mohammad Nabi Khan, who plays for Derbyshire, has represented Customs in three consecutive seasons from 2002-03. Shayafat, an allrounder with Northamptonshire, had played for National Bank in the 2002-03 season. Nabi is a 22-year-old middle-order batsman and offspinner, who made his first-class debut for MCC against Sri Lanka A earlier this year. However, he has played in Pakistan before, representing Afghanistan in the National Inter-District Senior Championship.
A total of 55 matches will be contested prior to the final, which will be played between January 1 to 5, though the venue hasn't yet been confirmed.
HBL, Pakistan Customs, Lahore Ravi, The Water and Power Development Authority , Sialkot, NBP, Faisalabad, Multan, Karachi Whites, Hyderabad and SSGC.
Khan Research Laboratories, Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited, Pakistan International Airlines, SNGPL, Karachi Blues, Rawalpindi, Lahore Shalimar, Peshawar, Islamabad, Abbottabad and Quetta.