190209 Lahore Qalandars
Lahore Qalandars players warm up during a training session at the ICC Cricket Academy. Image Credit: Lahore Qalandars

Dubai: Lahore Qalandars were among the first teams to arrive for the Pakistan Super League (PSL), which will commence from February 14 (Thursday).

This team, which will feature in the opening match against Islamabad United, have also begun training right away.

Speaking to Gulf News, Sameer Rana, chief executive officer and team manager of Qalandars, said: “We were the first team to arrive two days ago and have now scheduled regular training at the ICC ground. We have worked out our training schedule, with an intense session on February 11, On February 12th we will do team building exercise and on February 13th we will do some light training at 11am.”

Mohammad Hafeez, captain and senior Pakistan all-rounder, has also arrived from South Africa. “With Hafeez arriving, we will go full out with our plans. The star attraction of the team is AB De Villiers. Our team combination is very good and we will not let our fans down. All our players are looking forward to give their best,” added Rana.

Hafeez, one of the most experienced Pakistan cricketers and nicknamed ‘Professor,’ addressed the team and gave invaluable tips before the start of the first training session at the ICC Academy ground.

The most encouraging factor for the team, according to the management, is the willingness of all the players including De Villiers to travel to Pakistan for the later part of the tournament. Hafeez has thanked all team members on agreeing to travel to Pakistan — saying it’s a great gesture which will contribute to the cause of bringing international cricket back to Pakistan.

Some of the star foreign players in the team, apart from Villiers, are Carlos Brathwaite, Corey Anderson, Brendon Taylor, Anton Devcich and Sandeep Lamichhane.

Aqib Javed, a former coach of UAE team, is the head coach of Qalandars. He has embarked on a mission to find talented youngsters through Qalandars’ development programme.

The Lahore-based team’s next two engagements will be back-to-back matches against Karachi Kings (February 16) and Peshawar Zalmi (February 17), both in Dubai. Qalandar’s first match in Sharjah will be on February 22 against Sultan Multans, while their first match in Abu Dhabi will be on March 5 against Zalmi.