Around 35,000 aspiring cricketers appeared for trials during a talent hunt programme conducted by Pakistan Super League (PSL) team Lahore Qalandars in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
17 players including fast bowler Salman Irshad who “constantly bowled at speed of 144kmph” were selected as part of the first phase of the Jazz Rising Stars program by Lahore Qalandars, Pakistani media reported.
Former Pakistan fast bowler and the Qalandars’ Director Cricket Operations Aaqib Javed was impressed with Salman and said he had the potential to represent Pakistan at the international level.
“I have set a target for him to increase his speed to 150 kph. The angle he creates will help him bowl well in the death overs,” Javed was quoted as saying by a Pakistani channel.
Javed said the youngster was being called to the Lahore Qalandars academy, where he will receive training.
“I am hopeful that from the Lahore Qalandars platform we will give Pakistan its first cricketer from Azad Kashmir,” he said.
Salman has set his eyes on the Pakistan Super League already.
“I bowled at 144 kph after which Aaqib bhai announced that he would take me to the Lahore Qalandars camp and also make me play in the PSL. I will make Azad Kashmir and Pakistan proud,” he said.
The trials were conducted Thursday at Mirpur and Muzaffarabad during the first phase of the program, which will now resume after Eid-ul-Azha.
According to the details provided by Qalandars management, the first stop of Jazz Rising Stars was Mirpur where over 15,000 aspirants tried their luck in the talent-hunt program.
“20 players were picked from trials at Mirpur and were taken to Muzaffarabad for the 2nd phase of Kashmir trials for the final selection,” said Atif Rana, CEO of Lahore Qalandars.
In Muzaffarabad , over 19,000 participants showed up for the trials.
“From these participants, 60 were shortlisted including 20 from Mirpur, and from these 60, the final 17 were selected before Jazz Rising Stars wrapped up for Eid-break,” Rana added.
Players selected from Pak-administered Kashmir trials include Sohail Akhter, Malik Aswad, Ahmed Abbasi, M. Irfan, M. Mubashir, Hassan Raza, M. Yasir, Owais Butt, Salman Irshad, Fahad, Shadab, Usama, M. Bilal, Danyal, Shayan, Tayyab and Ayyan.
This is the second edition of Rising Stars program by Lahore Qalandars. Last year over 113,000 players appeared in trials across eight cities of Punjab.
Of them, after appearing at different stages, 15 selected players were sent to Australia for further experience, while four of them were picked for Qalandars’ PSL side.