Just when it seemed that relations between the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and its neighbouring officials stood at its record lowest, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) sprang up a major surprise by confirming a slot for a team from Pakistan in the Champions League (CL).
The CL is jointly hosted by the BCCI, Cricket South Africa, Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board. The BCCI relayed to the PCB Chairman Zaka Ashraf that it had no problems in a team from Pakistan taking part – a notion they will propose to the governing council. If approved, it will be the first time a team from Pakistan, believed to be reigning champions Sialkot Stallions, will be the part of this high-profile event.
While Ashraf called the move a major breakthrough, Stallions’ star all-rounder Rana Naved vowed to give it his all if the team managed to be part of the event.
“Our aim is to lift the trophy in our first try because we’re hungry for success and have been kept away from this for the last four years,” Naved told The Express Tribune. “Stallions have top T20 players like Imran Nazir, Shoaib Malik, Abdur Rehman, Raza Hasan, Haris Sohail, Shakeel Ansar and myself which makes us a formidable unit and we can’t be taken lightly.”
He added that, together with Malik’s leadership, the Stallions’ combination was the best among the participants.
“Malik an outstanding captain who respects the juniors and carries the seniors with him.
“He also invites opinion and advice from everyone. I’ve never seen a team fight for victory the way we do and that’s down to Malik’s leadership.”
Earlier, the PCB chief confirmed that BCCI chief N Srinivasan’s nod was an occasion to rejoice.
“It’s great news for us, the players and the fans that they’ll be able to see Stallions in the Champions League,” he said. “The board’s efforts have paid off and hopefully the Stallions will make their presence felt in the event.
“Srinivasan called me to give the good news and we also spoke about the restoration of a bilateral series. We might see Pakistan and India in action next year.”
Ashraf added that the central contracts, with a pay-rise, and awards for winning the Asia Cup will be announced on May 26.
Bhatti looks ahead to ‘life-changing decision
Meanwhile, Stallions’ pacer Bilawal Bhatti said that the tournament could change the players’ lives forever.
“There are many players who are from poor backgrounds so the CL brings a lot for us,” he said. “The money involved is something we can’t even think of earning our whole lives by playing domestic cricket. A good show can also invite offers from different leagues as well as the national side.”
“Our aim is to lift the trophy in our first try because we’re hungry for success and have been kept away from this for the last four years. Stallions have top T20 players which makes us a formidable unit, one that can’t be taken lightly.”
“It’s great news for us, the players and the fans that they’ll be able to see Stallions in the Champions League. The board’s efforts have paid off and hopefully the Stallions will make their presence felt in the event.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2012.