ISLAMABAD - The one-day Imran Khan’s fast bowlers Talent Hunt Programme for fast bowlers was launched here at National cricket ground on Thursday.

More than 400 emerging fast bowlers of as low as 12 years old to 30 years old from not only twin cities of Rawalpindi/Islamabad but also from adjacent areas turned up for the trials. Test players Umar Gul, Yasir Hameed, international player Najaf Shah and others were also present there to hunt the genuine talent.

Talking to The Nation, Islamabad Cricket Association North secretary Shabbir Ahmed, who was in-charge of the programme, lauded the passion of young pacers and said: “I was not expecting such a huge number of bowlers turning up for the trials. There huge presence clearly indicates that there is absolutely no dearth of talent in the country. We have witnessed fast bowlers touching 140 miles, which is very positive sign for Pakistan cricket. Taimoor from Peshawar topped the day with 141 deliveries.”

“It was Imran Khan’s dream and orders to start talent hunt programme for the fast bowlers. Imran was due to witness the trials, but due to some important issues, he could not turn up at the venue, while other top PTI leaders remained present for quite a while,” said Shabbir who also thanked Umar Gul, Yasir Hameed and Najaf Shah for sparing time to witness this healthy activity.

Sharing his views, Test-discarded pacer Umar Gul described Imran Khan as his ideal saying he started playing cricket watching Imran Khan . “I always wanted to become a legend like Imran, whose presence here could pull huge crowds.

“I am quite impressed to watch such passion among the youth. I am sure this talent hunt will give Pakistan at least 10 to 20 fast bowlers, who can play vital role in the years to come and help the national team scale new heights,” he added.

Gul said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was blessed with natural raw talent. “There is only need to find and polished the youngsters. Imran Khan’s vision for KP will certainly bear fruit and the day is not far, when super stars will come thick and fast from KP, Fata and other parts. My services are always available for Imran and my country. I would feel proud to help return Pakistan which gave name and fame to me.”

When asked about Pakistan cricket teams’ chances in the upcoming World T20, Gul replied: “Pakistan team is well-known to bounce back from the worst showings. Past performances mean nothing to them. On their given day, they can beat any top side of the world. The team will heavily rely on skipper Boom Boom Afridi, as if he clicks with the willow and leather, it would be impossible for all the top teams to even think about beating Pakistan.”

Gul termed India as his hot favourite and rated Australia and South Africa number two and three teams respectively. “Pakistan should enter the tournament without the fear of loss, as fear factor can dent their chances badly.” When asked about security concerns faced by Pakistan team and extremists Indians had warned them of dire consequences, Gul said: “We had faced similar situations in the past too. Indian fans love Pakistan cricketers and only handful extremists can’t prevent majority of Indian cricket fans from watching Pakistan team in action. I strongly believe Pakistan team will get highly positive response from the Indian crowds.”

Sharing his views, Yasir Hameed said Umar Akmal could bright Pakistan team to new heights. “Umar is top class performer and a natural striker, having no fear factor and has ability to punish any given bowler. After superb performances in the PSL, he has played positive cricket in Asia Cup as well, but what all he needs is confidence and backing of team management, captain and coach which can play key role in boosting Umar’s morale who can earn crucial win for Pakisan.”

“Pakistan must utilize first six overs, as they usually lose too many early wickets and fail put enough runs on the board. The green caps are more than capable of beating any side so they must enter the stadium with positive frame of mind and should play their natural game helping the county register crucial victories in the mega event,” he added.