Lahore Qalandars’ Rising Star T20 Cup has pulled thousands of fans to the Muzaffarabad Cricket Stadium in the capital city of Pakistan-administered Kashmir(PaK).
Pakistan’s former Test pacer and Qalandars’ Director Cricket Aaqib Javed said, “There’s no Shahid Afridi or Mohammad Amir here, but the electrifying environment attracts the crowds to this ground.”
The Pakistan Super League(PSL) franchise had organised a talent hunt programme in nine cities of Punjab and PaK in which more than 160,000 players appeared. “Usually, we don’t get to see more than 50-60 players coming for the trials, but here we have witnessed even 26,000 at a single venue,” Aaqib was quoted as saying by Dawn.
“We have used imported speed guns which are being used in baseball in the US,” disclosed Aaqib. “During the trials, we have discovered more than 12 fast bowlers who can bowl over 88 miles per hour,” he claimed.
Aaqib also discussed how merit system has been strictly observed during the trials. “Pakistan’s former Test player Salim Malik did everything to get his son selected into a team but he was rejected at five trials,” he said. “It was only when we got two good pacers selected from Gujranwala and then there was a demand for a batsmen from that region that his son was selected.”
The former pacer is stationed in Muzaffarabad for the T20 Cup opening matches. “I have never seen such a charged up crowd during my entire career,” he said. “We are changing the mindset of the audiences.”
At the end of the tournament, the coaches will select the best players and a 16-member team will then visit Australia to play against their local clubs. “A son of a mechanic is going to be trained at MCC, isn’t it amazing?” asked Aaqib.
“This platform will provide youngsters with five international opportunities at the start of their career. When the team returns from Australia, they will have Emirates T20, PSL and MCC. And when Durban Qalandars will do a talent hunt in South Africa, that team will be coming to play here in Kashmir,” he added.