Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise Lahore Qalandars, with the introduction of a revamped management and with last edition’s top bowler Sohail Khan in their ranks, are eying the title when the third edition begins on February 22.
Qalandars have called big names in their coaching panel which is being led by Pakistan bowling legend Aqib Javed. It also includes Kabir Khan as assistant coach, Atiquz Zaman as fielding coach, Kyle Mills as bowling coach, Richard Stonier as fitness trainer and John Gloster as physiotherapist.
Lahore also scooped Sohail, who was declared the best bowler with 16 wickets in nine matches in the second edition, during the draft. With the inclusion, Sohail’s new teammates and the management are optimistic to win the title.
This will be Lahore’s year: McCullum
Kiwi batting great Brendon McCullum, who led Lahore in the second edition but was unable to help them not end on fifth place for the second consecutive time, believes Qalandars’ time has come.
“It is great to be back for the third edition of the PSL. The Qalandars have made some very good signings for this season and I feel comfortable with the team we’ve got in this season,” McCullum told The Express Tribune.
“After a couple of disappointing years, maybe this is the year where we can really show the skills and talent we have and try to put it all together on the field for the people of Lahore and also for all the supporters around the world,” he added.
The 36-year-old was happy to have left-handed batsman Fakhar Zaman retained and Sohail added to the squad.
“I am very pleased to lead a team which has players like Zaman, who is a fantastic youngster and a leader as well. The new coaching panel also seems good with Aqib being prominent throughout the year for Qalandars. We also have the best bowler of the last season with us now who will make a big difference in the bowling of Qalandars. So, we are looking forward to playing fabulous and fearless cricket,” said McCullum.
Players optimistic to do better: Zaman
Zaman, who has been outstanding in the recent tour of Pakistan to New Zealand, said team is ready to give their best in the field.
“We have been practicing here at the camp in Dubai, while we have been practicing back in Pakistan too. The new coaching panel is helping us a lot in every area,” said Zaman. “The team that we have this year provides us with a perfect combination. All players are optimistic to do better for better results than the last year.”
Sohail focused on team’s performance
Sohail, who represented Karachi Kings in the last edition, says he is focused on putting up performances for the team rather than fighting for individual awards.
“Lahore gave me the chance to do something for them in my way. I will do my best to make them win the title this time,” said Sohail. “I was the best bowler last season but I was not able to help the team win. I wasn’t able to do much for the team; it was more of my personal performances. But this time, I will do my best to perform for the team and make them win the title.”
He added the good thing about Lahore Qalandars is that the management is really accommodating. “Having experienced coaches and experts helps a players further polish his skills. None of the players are burdened with extra workload, which is a great,” he said.
Happy to be a part of Qalandars’ squad: Afridi
The star fast-bowler of U19 World Cup and an emerging player for Lahore, Shaheen Shah Afridi, says he is learning a lot by sharing the dressing room with seniors.
“I am really happy to be the part of PSL and I am really enjoying the training sessions with the seniors,” he said. “I get to learn so much from the seniors and the coaches we have.”
Whereas, the find of Lahore Qalandars’ rising stars program, pacer Haris Rauf feels lucky to be attending the PSL with Qalandars.
“Coming here with such great player gives me much needed motivation. I want to become a great fast bowler for which our coach Aqib bhai has brought me here with the team at the PSL. I will try to learn as much as I can from this edition and make my debut in the next season for Lahore Qalandars,” said Rauf.