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Sunday Dec 08 2019

Lahore Qalandars' CEO says squad depicts PSL's essence

KARACHI: With the players' draft for the fifth edition of PSL in Lahore, all the teams have completed their squads for next year’s league in Pakistan.

A lot has been talked about the teams’ combination and strategy but – as always – Lahore Qalandars’ decision to appoint Sohail Akhtar captain and include three unknown players in the squad is one of the most debated topics.

Qalandars picked Farzan Raja, Mohammad Faizan and Dilber Hussain in their squad of 17 for the PSL. These three, along with Haris Rauf who made his mark in the last edition, are products of Qalandars’ own players development program.

And, according to Qalandars management, the decision to pick rookies depicts the essence of Pakistan Super League, which is to promote our local young talent.

“What’s PSL all about?” asked Atif Rana – the CEO of Lahore Qalandars – when this correspondent questioned him about why they included youngsters in the squad.

“Isn’t it about promoting the young talent of Pakistan,” he answered his own questioned.

Farzan Raja, once a law student, was picked by Qalandars from the player development program last year. He also toured Australia with the team where he earned a contract with Glenorchy Cricket Club in Australia. Raja also earned the opportunity to train with the Hobart Hurricanes squad.

Dilber Hussain, once working in an agricultural land in Jaranwala, was another fast bowling talent spotted through the same player development program along with batsman Mohammad Faizan.

Earlier, Qalandars' product Haris Rauf made a remarkable debut in the PSL and he has also been retained in the program.

“We have actually five players who are our very own. Our own proud products,” said Rana, naming Dilber Hussain, Farzan Raja, Mohammad Faizan, Haris Rauf and Sohail Akhtar.

“Investing on these youngsters will benefit not only Lahore Qalandars but it will also add strength to Pakistan Cricket,” he said.

Rana further said that the Qalandars have invested on these youngsters from day one.

“We didn’t start PDP for photo-ops, we did it with a cause and you’ll see the fruits in the PSL,” he said.

Franchises’ COO and team manager Sameen Rana echoed Atif’s views. According to Sameen, it is important to have players who have hunger to win and ambition to prove themselves.

“We had superstars in the past, from Gayle to McCullum and from Narine to AB de Villiers. Ee couldn’t win and we were criticized for relying on superstars. Now we are focusing on our own local talent and we are still being criticised,” said Sameen while expressing confidence that these youngsters will lead Qalandars to success in the PSL.

“Every time it is about the local young talent’s performance in the PSL. We all talked about how Umer Khan, Mohammad Hasnain or Haris Rauf performed. There were no discussions about how already established players performed in the league,” he said while emphasizing on the need to give importance to local talent.

Sameen also revealed why Sohail Akhtar was made captain of the side.

“We have a good number of players from our own PDP. Sohail has led them in the past and knows them well. He has proven to be a successful captain with Qalandars,” said the franchise’s COO.

“He knows all our players and can use them accordingly, it was an easy decision to name him our captain,” Sameen mentioned.