ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s parliamentarians cricket team captain Makhdoom Zain Hussain Qureshi Wednesday looked highly satisfied with the training of his parliamentarians at Shalmiar Cricket Ground and said like their great captain Imran Khan, they will return as the first-ever Inter-Parliamentary Cricket Tournament-2019 champions from England.

Currently around 30 parliamentarians are training hard to get a place in the Pakistan team at Shalimar Cricket Ground who will play in the 8-nation Inter-Parliamentary Cricket Tournament, which is scheduled to be held in England from July 8 to 15 this year.

Talking to The Nation Zain said: “It is not government or opposition cricket team; it is team of Pakistan’s elected parliament, who will participate in the event and will play like one-unit. It would be a good show of cricket diplomacy as we will meet the honourable members of seven other participating nations. British PM has also invited us to 10-Downing Street. We will plead Pakistan’s case at every possible forum and let me assure all that as ambassadors of Pakistan, we will ensure like we are visiting England, they will in return come and play in Pakistan.”

He said the visit will give us chance to discuss important issues at the sidelines as we are going to meet each other several times during and after the tournament. “Believe me, our members are taking keen interest and are very serious and passionate. They are training for hours even during the National Assembly sessions. We are training for last week or so and looking at the involvement of members, we have decided to continue training during the holy month of Ramazan as well under lights.”

“I am highly grateful to Pakistan Cricket Board for providing us with top level coaches and off course to Islamabad Regional Cricket Association President SHakil Shaikh, who is a well-known cricketing brain in not only Pakistan but in the world cricket as well. The way Sabih Azhar, Taimoor Azam and Ayaz Akbar are working hard on not only our mantel but also physical training, it is truly remarkable. We have some highly good talented players, who will defiantly help the team in best possible manner. We train in two sessions, first we play in the nets and then we focus on our physical fitness.”

He said they had planned to play against all the provincial assembly cricket teams and Lahore Qalandars had also offered them to play against their team and were also planning to play against services cricket teams as well.

The parliamentarians would kick start their friendly matches schedule from today (Thursday) when they would take on the Journalists XI at Shalimar ground. The match will start at 2:00pm.

Zain said the parliamentarians cricket team will not stop activities after the tournament in England would visit different countries and also would invite them to play in Pakistan as well. “Once the world’s parliamentarians cricket teams’ play in Pakistan, their national teams would be bound to come and provide our long-suffering fans with an opportunity to watch their favourite players in action in front of their own crowd. We have suffered a great deal in the absence of international cricket in Pakistan for last decade and many of these players have yet to play in front of their home fans. Although the PSL has provided our fans some relief but it is not enough.”

“Our players want to beat India but I want to beat all the teams. I want to thank Speaker Asad Qaiser for taking initiative and forming first-ever Pakistani parliamentarians’ cricket team. We were isolated and we need such platform to tell our side of the story to rest of the world. We are gradually improving with each passing day as one unit. And by the time July comes, all will see a balanced and competitive Pakistani parliamentarians team. We are going with an aim to go win the inaugural tournament. Only 11 players can play but we have at least players for two teams, who are capable of beating any given side. We will play with passion and also keep an eye on the prestige of Pakistan and will return with our heads high,” Zain concluded.