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The Lahore Qalandars Rising Stars team made their way to Coogee Oval recently, taking on the Randwick Petersham side and claiming the Beastwear International T20 Cup.
Walking out under an ominous-looking sky, openers R Ahmed and Saadullah put on 23 before Saadullah went for 12.
This gave first drop Hamza a chance to shine, which he accepted. A spectacular diving catch by Nick Warren in the deep - a highlight of the match - eventually saw the number three batsman and wicket-keeper dismissed for 61.
Warren also claimed 1/25 off four overs, with Matt Critchley and McKenzie achieving figures of 1/27 and 1/29 respectively during the visitors’ 7/175 off the 20 overs.
Though there were glimpses of sunshine, the grey skies made good on their threat and saw the Randy Petes chasing a total revised under Duckworth-Lewis. They didn’t quite get there, managing 3/58, 18 shy of the score to beat.
Everett made 3, Critchley top-scored for the home team with 27, and Psarakis made 11.
Hamza won the Man of the Match award for his stunning innings, with both this trophy and the Match trophy provided by Beastwear, the day’s sponsor.
The November 9, Coogee Oval game also served as a warm-up for the visiting Pakistani team, which wrapped up its tour with the tri-series final (won by Sydney Thunder Academy) the following week.
The visit was part of the Qalandars’ development program. As Aaqib Javed - a former star fast-bowler with the Pakistani national side and the Director of Cricket for the Lahore Qalandars franchise - explained afterwards, the squad of 15 qualified after intense nationwide trials. Held over 33 days at eight locations, these attracted 113,000 hopefuls.
These were whittled down to 128, which formed eight teams for a tournament at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium.
“All the games were live on TV,” says the coach, explaining the massive local interest in the trials.
“The amazing thing was on the final day there were 30,000 people watching the game, and 10,000 were outside trying to get in, because the house was full.”
The development program for the Pakistan Super League team’s young stars involves international collaborations, which Aaqib says boost goodwill towards the franchise and provide mutual benefit for all involved.
Photo credits: Anarchy concepts
“We will have a players’ exchange program, coaches’ exchange program, development plans, and after this, we will give them a return tour,” he says of competing Australian teams.
“We would love them to come to Pakistan. If not, then we can host them in Dubai or Qatar. I think it’s a great learning to have the young Aussie boys learn how to play on the Asian pitches.”
Photo credit: Peter Bannigan
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