LAHORE - Lahore Qalandars have appointed Mohammad Hafeez as captain for the fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL).  Although Qalandars also had Fakhar Zaman and Yasir Shah as captaincy options, yet they went with the more experienced captain in shape of M Hafeez. Both Yasir and Fakhar were considered for the top job, with the proposition never quite materialising. The release of Hafeez from the Peshawar Zalmi roster this year made Hafeez the favoured pick.

In the last three seasons, Qalandars went with the Pakistan Test batsman Azhar Ali as captain, followed by Brendon McCullum for the following two seasons. Azhar, their first captain, was removed from the job and never played again even though he was initially retained for the 2017 season, before being released. Two seasons with McCullum as captain did not help improve their fate either, with the side finishing bottom every year since the PSL’s inception. Over the three seasons, they lost 18 out of 26 games.

Since the first season, other teams retaining their local captains had left the Qalandars short on options. But for the upcoming fourth season, they had a wider pool of Pakistan players to pick a captain from, with Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi all in the draft. They went on to pick Hafeez as their platinum player last month, believing a local captain would bring better results.

Hafeez, 38, retired from Test cricket after the recently concluded Test series against New Zealand in UAE in a bid to focus on his limited-overs career. He has played 248 T20 matches, scoring 5244 runs at a strike rate of 122.35. He captained Pakistan in T20Is between 2012 and 2014 before stepping down just days after the team’s exit from the group stage of the 2014 World T20 in Bangladesh.

During his stint as T20I captain, he led Pakistan to the semi-finals of the 2012 World T20 in Sri Lanka. However, the team exited at the group stage of the 2014 edition, after losing to West Indies by 84 runs. It was the first time Pakistan had failed to progress to the semi-finals in five editions of the tournament. Hafeez’s overall T20I record stands at 18 wins (one via a one-over eliminator) and 11 losses from 29 matches.

Qalandars CEO Atif Rana said that Muhammad Hafeez is the pride of Pakistan and this season, he will lead the Qalandars’ squad with his expertise and great leadership skills. “We are extremely honored to have Hafeez on board with us. There is no doubt about the fact that he is an exceptional leader and a great player and I’m sure he’ll be able to lead the team with the best of his abilities.”

Qalandars head coach Aqib Javed said: “Having Hafeez in the squad is amazing and I’m sure that with his skills and knowledge of the game, he will be able to lead all the youngsters and they will get to learn so much from him.” The fourth edition of PSL will begin from 14th February, 2018.