Despite being a Karachiite, my allegiance lies with the Lahore Qalandars

Published: January 18, 2017
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Dama dam mast! PHOTO: LAHORE QALANDARS FACEBOOK PAGE

The second edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL) is just around the corner and, like all teams, the Lahore Qalandars fan following has pinned high hopes on their side especially after a below par first season. The Qalandars clan would be eyeing loads of ‘dama dam mast’ moments and would be more than happy to see their side rule the roost in the upcoming edition of Pakistan’s premier T20 League.

The ‘Baz’ factor

The Lahore Qalandars are blessed to have a player like Brendon McCullum in their ranks especially considering the fact that he will also be leading the side. The Kiwi superstar needs no introduction and although (to many) Chris Gayle is the king of T20 cricket but Baz is also right up there amongst the best in the business.

Brendon McCullum raises his bat to acknowledge the applause after his final Test innings, New Zealand v Australia, second Test, Christchurch, third day, February 22, 2016
Photo: AFP

His presence will be of great value for the Qalandars, whether it is with a bat or on the field. The way he approaches a T20 game through his explosive stroke play at the top of the order can rattle any bowling line-up. His aggressive mind-set will help in ensuring that positivity is flowing throughout the entire squad and every player goes out on the field with a winning mentality.

Exciting batting talent

Apart from the flamboyance of Brendon McCullum at the top of the order, the Qalandars have some solid T20 batsmen in the shape of South African Cameron Delport who had a more than decent first season where he amassed more than 200 runs. He can also come prove quite handy with the ball and can roll his arm over for a couple of over’s if required.

Cameron Delport plays a sweep shot, Karachi Kings v Lahore Qalandars, PSL 2016, Dubai, February 5, 2016
Photo: PCB

The team also has the services of talented Pakistani cricketer Umar Akmal who was Qalandar’s top run getter in the inaugural edition and is a match winner on his day.

Umar Akmal smacked a 16-ball 22, India v Pakistan, World T20 2016, Group 2, Kolkata, March 19, 2016
Photo: AFP

Although Pakistan’s current ODI skipper, Azhar Ali, was initially the captain of the Lahore Qalandars in the first edition, he was unable to inspire the side both in the captaincy department and with his batting. Instead of Azhar the team will be better off if they opt for the young opener Fakhar Zaman who has promised a lot in the domestic circuit through his consistent performances and the ability to score runs at a brisk pace.

Fakhar Zaman in training during Pakistan A’s tour of Zimbabwe, October 2016
Photo: PCB

The Qalandars also have the likes of Kiwi player Anton Devcich and Pakistani wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan who are useful T20 players and contribute handsomely with the bat from time to time.

Experienced bowling attack

Moving our focus to their bowling, the Lahore based outfit have quite a few bowlers who can come in handy bearing in mind the conditions in UAE which generally favour the slower bowlers and especially the spinners.

The Qalandars have an immensely experienced T20 bowler in the shape of Sunil Narine who has the ability to tighten the noose around the opponents through his skilful off-spin bowling.

Sunil Narine picked up 2 for 36, West Indies v Australia, ODI tri-series, second match, Providence, June 5, 2016
Photo: AFP

In the spinning department Narine will also have the support of quality Pakistani leg spinner Yasir Shah. Although Shah is yet to prove his mettle in this particular format but nevertheless he is a force to reckon with and would be eager to prove his potential especially due to the fact that he missed the inaugural edition due to a ban on his bowling.

The franchise also has a seasoned T20 campaigner Sohail Tanvir who has vast experience in this format after featuring in numerous T20 leagues around the globe and brings a lot to the table with his all-round capabilities.

Sarfraz Ahmed and Sohail Tanvir added valuable runs at the death, Pakistan v New Zealand, second ODI, Sharjah, December 12, 2014
Photo: AFP

The Qalandars would be hoping that Sohail Tanvir, along with Bilawal Bhatti and Aamer Yamin, can shoulder the responsibility and pick up wickets with the new ball upfront.

In the emerging players category the Lahore Qalandars management opted for two young stars in the form of leggie Usman Qadir, who is son of former legendary Pakistan leg-spinner Abdul Qadir, and left-arm fast medium bowler Ghulam Mudassar.

Usman Qadir takes a catch, Pakistan v West Indies, Under-19 World Cup 2012, Townsville, August 22, 2012
Photo: ICC

The two youngsters will ideally look to showcase their talent, if given the opportunity, and pave their path for international reckoning.

The absence of Bravo

The Qalandars will have to cope without the Windies ‘champion’ all-rounder Dwayne Bravo who will miss the second edition of the PSL due to a long injury layoff. Bravo was not able to lay a strong impact for his side in the first edition but despite that fact he will surely be missed by his franchise in the second edition keeping in mind his strong T20 background.

Dwayne Bravo celebrates the last-ball win, India v West Indies, second T20I, Florida, August 28, 2016
Photo: AFP

Although his absence will hurt the team, they can still progress in the tournament and stay competitive due to their squad depth.

Even though I am a Karachiite, when the second edition of Pakistan Super League begins, my allegiances will lie with the Lahore Qalandars and I will most definitely be backing them to lift the title this time.

Dama dam mast!

Muneeb Farrukh

Muneeb Farrukh

The author is a freelance sportswriter based in Karachi. He tweets as @Muneeb313_ (twitter.com/Muneeb313_)

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