All-rounder M Hafeez believes that despite failing to qualify for the Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) semi-finals, Lahore Lions’ overall performance remained exceptional in the lucrative event. Lions became the first team from Pakistan to play in the main round of the tournament, as previously both Faisalabad Wolves and Sialkot Stallions were knocked out in the qualifying round.

“I think our team’s performance in the face of limited resources was remarkable,” said Hafeez. “Unlike other big teams, we didn’t have batting, bowling or fielding coaches with us, but we still managed to fight well. We learned a lot from the CLT20 and it’s great for young domestic players to come and perform at such a big stage.”

In the main round, Lions were narrowly beaten by Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in their first Group A match, while their clash with Chennai Super Kings (CSK) was washed out due to rain. The team finally managed a victory in their third clash against South Africa’s Dolphins.

The deciding match saw Lions flayed by Perth Scorchers’ Robbie Frylinck, whose 63-run onslaught down the order delivered a huge blow to their Net Run-Rate and knocked them out of the last-four race. “We’ve identified the areas that need improvement, but those changes need to be made in our domestic cricket,” added Hafeez.

“The fielding and fitness of our domestic players needs to be worked upon, while they also need to learn how to play under pressure so that they aren’t bogged down when they play in such a high-profile tournament.” In the batting department, Saad Nasim was Lions’ top-scorer with 207 runs from six matches and Umar Akmal (189), Ahmad Shahzad (130) and Hafeez (107) were the other notable scorers.

In bowling, Aizaz Cheema claimed 11 wickets from six matches while Hafeez and Wahab Riaz claimed six scalps. Young left-arm spinner Mustafa Iqbal also starred in three matches, picking up five wickets. “Nasim was a source of motivation for us due to the way he played in pressure situations, while Akmal batted brilliantly too,” concluded Hafeez.