Dama Dam Mast Lahore Qalandars
|The journey of popular Pakistani Cricket Franchise Lahore Qalandars from back-to-back winless streaks to Dhamal has been action-packed.|
The constant highs of the PSL 7 after several lows throughout the first 6 seasons depict the impulsive brand of cricket LQ plays. They have unpredictability associated with them since their introduction. I, Basit Subhani (BS), have discussed their progression with Pakistan’s first and most experienced female sports journalist, Aalia Rasheed (AR), who has closely seen this fascinating journey of Qalandars.
BS: From making Azhar Ali and Sohail Akhtar their Captains who had not played any T20 cricket for Pakistan; this season they announced a 21 years old Shaheen Afridi as their Captain. How do Lahore Qalandars come up with such audacious decisions?
AR: Since the Lahore Qalandars owners didn’t have a cricketing background; they were initially dependent on Former Pakistani cricketer Ijaz Ahmed for their cricketing decisions. They didn’t have much franchise experience too so they had to work really hard on making it a successful brand in every aspect.
In my personal opinion, after Aqib Javed took over as Director of Cricket Operations for LQ, maybe he preferred a Captain who wouldn’t be assertive so Aqib can call the shots otherwise making Sohail Akhtar captain was beyond any common sense. But, finally they have made the right decision. Appointing Shaheen Afridi as captain is an excellent decision as it gives a promising youngster a platform where not only, he will be groomed but his decision making in crunch situations will improve too which will benefit Pakistan cricket immensely.”
BS: On one hand, LQ has a 21 years old captain and on the other hand almost twice his age cricketers are playing in the same team. How do you see this mixture?
AR: Mixing experience with young blood is a recipe for success but this season, we have also noticed that Mohammad Hafeez, Kamran Akmal, Wahab Riaz and even Shoaib Malik couldn’t help their team win important matches. In T20’s, your reflexes matter a lot. Still, there is much for youngsters like Abdullah Shafique and Kamran Ghulam who are excellent picks to learn from senior pros. Hopefully, they will be able to fill in big shoes in the time to come.”
BS: Qalandars has a passionate loyal fan base who have broken all records of participation in the stadiums especially during their matches which is not seen when the other franchises play. What could be the main reason?
AR: I will give massive credit of Lahore Qalandars’ success as a brand to Rana Atif, who is a marketing guru. Lahoris are more inclined towards festivities; dhols, music, food, meet ups and stuff, which has been well captured by the franchise. Their ideology of empowering youth of Pakistan has done wonders. People can see how LQ has identified and groomed players from small towns like Salman Irshad in their Players Development Program under Pakistani cricketing legends.
They keep involving youngsters in High Performance Centre by picking the talented youth. Haris Rauf is a pure product of LQ. Fakhar Zaman was groomed and then Shaheen Afridi who may have played U-19 for Pakistan but LQ sped up the process. And, then we have seen fans interaction with their favorite LQ players being made possible by the owners like just in their last game, they accommodated a disabled fan. All this make them a special franchise.”
Basit Subhani is a broadcasting journalist and social activist. He could be followed at https://twitter.com/BasitSubhani