This season's Pentangular Cup will be boosted by the presence of most of Pakistan's big names, with as many 15 Pakistan regulars representing their respective provincial sides.
Defending champions Sind will once again be the team to beat, captained as they are by Shahid Afridi and boosted by the presence of Faisal Iqbal as his deputy and Danish Kaneria as his lead spinner. Sohail Khan, the fast-bowling find of the last domestic season on the fringes of the national team, will also be there, while Sarfraz Ahmed, Kamran Akmal's national understudy, will keep wickets and provide lower-order stability.
Fast bowler, Anwar Ali, who took five wickets in the Under-19 World Cup final against India in 2006, will be one of the many players to watch out for after his impressive show for the Pakistan Cricket Academy in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Ali, alongwith Sohail, will form a testing new-ball pairing for Sind, and both are in line for international places.
Their main challenge is likely to come from Punjab who can rely on no less than 12 internationals in their 15-man squad. They will be led by Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik, while Mohammad Yousuf, Nasir Jamshed, Salman Butt, Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez add enviable depth to their batting. Though not as strong as Sind, their bowling will benefit from the inclusion of Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Khaleel, the upcoming paceman Mohammad Talha and Saeed Ajmal and Mansoor Amjad as spinners.
Though Younis Khan is absent playing for South Australia, NWFP will still be able to call on Umar Gul and Yasir Hameed as captain and vice-captain respectively. Fast bowlers Shoaib Akhtar, Sohail Tanvir, and Rao Iftikhar will represent Federal Areas who were runners-up last season.
Baluchistan found themselves at the bottom of the points table last season after losing all their matches, three of which were innings-defeats. They'll be hoping for a change in fortunes this time under the captaincy of Misbah-ul-Haq, who is among a number of guest players recruited from other provinces to try and beef up a traditionally cricket-poor province. Kamran Hussein, Abdur Rauf and Mohammad Irshad - all three from Punjab - will ensure Baluchistan have a more than adequate pace attack.
Sind and Federal Areas, who play the tournament opener on October 25, met in a closely fought game last season, when Federal Areas recorded a one-wicket win. Ten matches were played in the competition last season, with seven outright results.
NWFP: Umar Gul (capt), Yasir Hameed, Rafatullah Mohmand, Aftab Alam, Adnan Raees, Riaz Kail, Zulfiqar Jan (wk), Nauman Habib, Aslam Qureshi, Waqar Ahmed, Junaid Khan, Shakeel-ur-Rehman, Yasir Shah, Aslam Qureshi, Wajid Ali, Shoaib Khan.
Sind: Shahid Afridi (capt), Khalid Latif, Khurram Manzoor, Asif Zakir, Naumanullah, Faisal Iqbal, Faisal Ather, Rizwan Ahmed, Fawad Alam, Danish Kaneria, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Sohail Khan, Tanvir Ahmed, Anwar Ali, Naeem-ur-Rehman.
Federal Areas: Iftikhar Anjum (capt), Raheel Majeed, Afaq Raheem, Umair Khan, Bazid Khan, Naveed Quereshi, Usman Saeed, Ashar Zaidi, Umar Amin, Naeem Anjum (wk), Immad Wasim, Shoail Tanvir, Shoaib Akhtar, Yasir Arafat, Yasir Ali.
Baluchistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Usman Tariq, Saeed Anwar Jr., Shoaib Khan, Naseem Khan, Saeed Bin Nasir, Rameez Alam, Taimur Ali, Kamran Hussain, Abdur Rauf, Azharullah, Mohammad Irshad, Nazar Hussain, Gulraiz Sadaf, Bilal Khilji.
Punjab: Shoaib Malik (capt), Salman Butt, Nasir Jamshed, Mohammad Yousuf, Ammar Mahmood, Mohammad Hafeez, Kamral Akmal (wk), Mansoor Amjad, Abdur Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Khalil, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Zia, Mohammad Talha, Adnan Raza