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LAHORE: HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL), a marquee fixture in Pakistan’s cricketing calendar, has captured the hearts of millions of dedicated fans globally over the course of eighth editions of the league.

Since HBL PSL’s inauguration in 2016, Lahore Qalandars has carved a niche for itself, not just for its vibrant team combination but also for a compelling journey marked by highs, lows, and an unwavering commitment to excellence by developing their own talent.

Lahore Qalandars swiftly ascended to prominence, cultivating a passionate fan base and a reputation for nurturing local talent. They established themselves as a team that not only embraced flair and entertainment on the field but also displayed vibrancy and commitment off it through their initiatives to hone local talent and bring it into limelight. The current back-to-back champions grappled with inconsistent performances in early seasons as they struggled to find a combination that can win them trophies. Despite the presence of stellar individual performers, the challenge remained in transforming individual brilliance into collective success.

“First four years were very challenging with lots of disappointment and criticism, there were times when one would even start doubting oneself, but it was important for us to learn from those experiences from our mistakes, and it helped us improve in later stages of the league, where we won back to back titles,” said Sameen Rana, who serves as the COO and team manager for Lahore Qalandars. Sameen also co-owns the franchise with his brother Atif Rana, who serves as the CEO.

Undeterred by these early setbacks, the management of Lahore Qalandars remained resolute in their vision, and persistently worked towards transforming challenges into opportunities.

Lahore Qalandars’ unwavering commitment to develop talent saw them travel from the North to South of Pakistan. This dedication was crucial to their journey towards becoming the first side to clinch back-to-back HBL PSL trophies. The iconic and globally acclaimed Player Development Program (PDP) goes beyond mere talent scouting; it identifies and nurtures young cricketing talent and also offers comprehensive programs aimed at developing this talent, providing them with opportunities to showcase their skills at international venues in countries like Australia, UAE, Zimbabwe, and Namibia. Moreover, their distinguished high-performance centre creates a nurturing environment for emerging talents.

“The PDP was my brother Atif [Rana]’s vision, he wanted to engage the youth with the franchise,” said Sameen, adding: “We had a very detailed discussion on this project, he was very passionate about developing talent, and the project was very close to his heart, and he is the one who deserves the credit for success of PDP.”

The turning point came during the COVID-affected 2020 season when Lahore Qalandars, under the leadership of Sohail Akhtar, reached the final for the first time of the HBL PSL. Although the title remained elusive, the team’s impressive run signaled a significant shift, highlighting the fact that success in cricket is an evolutionary process and the team had the grind it needed for evolution.

After that the tide changed for Lahore Qalandars as in the 2022 edition, under the leadership of new captain Shaheen Shah Afridi, they emerged as a transformed team. Stellar contributions from Rashid Khan, Fakhar Zaman, David Wiese, Harry Brook, Zaman Khan, Haris Rauf and the captain himself, propelled the team to their maiden HBL PSL title in Lahore.

In 2023, Lahore Qalandars claimed a historic feat when it became the first team in HBL PSL history to successfully defend their title, securing their second HBL PSL trophy with a victory over Multan Sultans.

Shaheen’s all-round brilliance and Zaman Khan’s composure under pressure were pivotal to this triumph.

As the team gears up for the upcoming season, the absence of their lead spinner Rashid Khan – due to injury – can be impact Lahore Qalandars. Nevertheless, the team appears well-prepared, with an arsenal of new talents poised to surprise opponents.

“I am very hopeful from this squad, which is very much balanced, though we know other teams are also strong, but we are prepared. I am confident that Qalandars are very much capable of defending the title and creating history,” said Sameen.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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Usman Ansari Feb 12, 2024 11:56am
Lahore psl champions inshaallah
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