LAHORE - M Hasnain has replaced injured pacer Naseem Shah in the Quetta Gladiators squad for the HBL PSL 2019, which commences on 14 February. In a repeat of the 2016 final, the Gladiators will take on Peshawar Zalmi in their tournament opener on 15 February in Dubai.

Naseem, who impressed the Quetta Gladiators team management with his performances for the Pakistan U19 and ZTBL on the domestic circuit, was one of the most talked-about emerging picks at this year’s HBL PSL Player Draft.

The 16-year-old pacer from Lower Dir is currently going through a rehabilitation programme at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore where the experts feel he will require more time to recover from his lower back injury. “I am obviously gutted that I will not be taking part in the HBL PSL 2019. My focus right now is on making a proper recovery so I can play for a long time to come and I am working hard with NCA staff to overcome this injury,” Naseem said.

Hasnain, 18-year-old from Hyderabad, will be looking to make his mark in the Quetta Gladiators team under the captaincy of Sarfaraz Ahmed after having missed out the 2018 edition for Islamabad United due to an injury.

“I am excited with the opportunity to play in HBL PSL 2019 for Quetta Gladiators and I can’t wait to share the dressing room with the leading stars of international cricket,” said Hasnain. “We have so many seniors in our team including our captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, Dwayne Bravo, Shane Watson, Sohail Tanvir and Sunil Narine. This is nothing short of a dream coming true for an aspiring cricketer like myself.

“Last year was an extremely frustrating experience for me and I can feel for Naseem and what he must be going through,” Hasnain said.

Quetta Gladiators coach Moin Khan said: “We believe in Naseem Shah’s ability and we are confident that this is just a minor bump in what will hopefully be a successful career. The Gladiators will continue to support Naseem and we look forward to handing him his purple cap at some point in the future. At the same time, we welcome Hasnain to our squad. He is another young prospect and we will offer him our full support to hone his skills and learn from a professional Quetta Gladiators team environment.”

Quetta Gladiators Media and Player Acquisition Head Nabeel Hashmi said: “Hasnain is someone who can generate serious pace and has the potential to become the next big fast bowling sensation from Pakistan.” 

Promoting young talent is a key attribute of HBL PSL. Each team is required to pick, at least, two emerging cricketers in their squad. In the past three seasons, this policy has provided opportunities to many players, including Hassan Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz and Hassan Khan.

This year the teams also had the option of nominating Talent Hunt Discoveries with Lahore Qalandars selecting the talented Harris Rauf in this category. All injury replacement requests are approved by the HBL PSL 2019 Tournament Technical Committee, comprising Mudassar Nazar (Director Academies), Dr Sohail Saleem (Head of Sports Sciences and Medicine) and Usman Iqbal Wahla (SGM Cricket Operations).