The cream of the country's talent will take part in the Pentangular Cup, due to begin in cities around Pakistan, from February 10. For the first time in its 34-year-old history, only provincial teams will be competing for the prize, which includes Pakistan's four provinces as well as a team representing the Federal Areas.
Unusually for a domestic competition, the country's top players are taking part, a result of the board's policy to make it a tournament of the top 75 performers from the Quaid-e-Azam trophy. Additionally, 25 of the most promising young players from around the country have been called up to the squads.
Shoaib Malik, Pakistan's captain, will lead Punjab, Shahid Afridi is Sindh's captain, while Younis Khan leads the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). Shoaib Akhtar, who is playing in a bid to prove his fitness before Australia tour Pakistan, will lead the Federal Areas, which includes players from Islamabad and surrounding regions. Balochistan, historically Pakistan's weakest cricket province, will include guest players from around the country in a bid to strengthen the side and will be led by Naseem Khan.
The tournament has undergone a number of format changes, often including departments and not always restricted to - as the name suggests - five teams. This year's tournament, however, is a return to how the tournament was originally intended and is among the most financially rewarding: not only do the winners claim a Rs 1 million prize (approx US$16,000), each member of the playing XI will be paid Rs 25,000 (approx US$400) per match. Non-playing members of the squad will get Rs 10,000 (approx US$160). The tournament will also be televised on a local sports channel.
There will be a short break after the first round of matches as general elections will be held in the country on February 18, but the four-day matches resume from February 22. The tournament, which kicks off with Sindh taking on NWFP in Karachi and Punjab playing the Federal Areas in Lahore, will be played on a single-league basis.
Punjab: Shoaib Malik (capt), Mohammad Yousuf, Salman Butt, Mohammad Hafeez, Misbah-ul-Haq (vice-capt), Kamran Akmal (wk), Naved Latif, Adnan Raza, Ammar Mahmood, Junaid Zia, Wahab Riaz, Waqas Ahmad, Mansoor Amjad, Mohammad Khalil, Abdul Rehman, Mohammad Salman (wk), Aizaz Cheema, Kashif Raza, Nasir Jamshed, Azhar Ali, Mohammad Asif (will be included in the team after a fitness test).
Sindh: Khalid Latif, Khurram Manzoor, Shadab Kabir, Shahid Afridi (capt), Naumanullah, Hasan Raza, Faisal Iqbal (vice-capt), Asim Kamal, Fawad Alam, Rizwan Ahmad, Sohail Khan, Anwar Ali, Mohammad Sami, Faisal Athar, Danish Kaneria, Sarfraz Ahmad (wk), Hanif Malik (wk), Tahir Khan, Uzair-ul-Haq, Asif Zakir.
Federal Areas: Shoaib Akhtar (capt), Rao Iftikhar (vice-capt), Yasir Arafat, Sohail Tanvir, Rauf Akbar, Naeem Anjum (wk), Afaq Raheem, Raheel Majeed, Naveed Qureshi, Usman Saeed, Bazid Khan, Shahzad Azam Rana, Omair Khan, Atif Maqbool, Fayyaz Ahmad, Bilal Asad, Asher Zaidi, Babar Naeem, Yasir Ali, Asadullah Sumeri.
Balochistan: Usman Tariq, Imran Nazir, Saeed Anwar jnr, Shoaib Khan, Naseem Khan (capt), Sohaib Maqsood, Rameez Alam, Bilal Khiljee, Saeed Bin Nasir, Jalat Khan, Abdur Rauf (vice-capt), Kamran Hussain, Azharullah, Tanvir Ahmad, Mohammad Irshad, Imranullah Aslam, Gulraiz Sadaf (wk), Nazar Hussain, Faisal Irfan, Yasir Arafat.
NWFP: Younis Khan (capt), Yasir Hameed (vice-capt), Riffatullah Mohmmand, Wajid Ali, Aftab Ahmad Khan, Wajahatullah Wasti, Riaz Kail, Asad Shafiq, Zulfiqar Jan (wk), Aslam Qureshi, Yasir Shah, Khurram Shahzad, Shakeel-ur-Rehman, Nauman Habib, Fazl-e-Akbar, Adnan Raees, Waqar Ahmad, Fawad Khan (wk), Junaid Khan, Samiullah Khan, Umar Gul (will be included after a fitness test).