Quetta Gladiators skipper Sarfraz Ahmed believes winning the inaugural edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) is the biggest gift that his side can give to the people of Quetta as the Gladiators prepare to take on Islamabad United in the final at the Dubai International Stadium on Tuesday.
In comparison to other major cities of Pakistan, the people of Quetta have not been able to develop an affinity with cricket. However, with the Gladiators’ unexpected rise in the PSL, the provincial capital of Balochistan has suddenly found itself uniting under one banner and Sarfraz insists that his side would do everything they can to not let these emotions go to waste.
“We certainly want to win the PSL and more importantly, we want to win it for the people of Quetta,” said Sarfraz while talking to The Express Tribune. “Quetta is not known for cricket but with this performance in the PSL, I’ve seen how many people are increasingly getting interested in the game. We really want to do it for them.”
The national T20I vice-captain also said that he was happy to see how the rise of the team has given budding cricketers from Quetta the confidence to keep pursuing their dream of playing the sport professionally.
“The PSL has been phenomenal in instilling the belief in the younger lot that they can follow their dreams, and I would be extremely proud if one day a legend is born from the city because of the confidence that our team, or the PSL, gave to them,” said Sarfraz.
Talking about how the presence of international stars such as Kumar Sangakkara and Kevin Pietersen has affected the team’s performance, Sarfraz said: “They [Sangakkara and Pietersen] have been extremely helpful. We are all always learning from them as they always have something to offer.”
He further added, “I was a bit surprised at how helpful Pietersen really is because, before we had met him, there was this perception that he was not a team player. However, I can confidently say that he is one of the nicest and friendliest guys I have met. He gelled into the team very easily and now helps us out in every possible way.”
Sarfraz also praised the impact of mentor and West Indies legend Sir Vivian Richards, and how his energetic attitude and on-the-spot advice has helped the Gladiators ‘settle their nerves’ in tricky situations. “He [Richards] is a great presence in our dressing room and has helped us in more ways than we can imagine,” he said. “His supportive attitude and great advice have really helped us settle our nerves.”
Sarfraz’s Gladiators would be seen in action against Islamabad at 2100 on Tuesday.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2016.
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