Quetta Gladiators have made some big moves ahead of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) player draft by securing the services of West Indies spinner Sunil Narine along with former Pakistan batsman Umar Akmal.
The Gladiators traded pacer Rahat Ali and left-arm spinner Hassan Khan to Lahore Qalandars to secure the services of the duo on Saturday.
“Sunil Narine and Umar Akmal are world-class additions to the Gladiators squad ahead of PSL season 4. Sunil Narine is a magician with the ball and one of the best match winners when in T20 cricket. Umar Akmal, too, remains one of the most destructive batsmen in Pakistan and he will add much-needed firepower in our batting,” Quetta Gladiators owner Nadeem Omar said in a statement.
Breaking News!!! 📢 📢📢— Quetta Gladiators (@TeamQuetta) November 3, 2018
The magician Sunil Narine has joined Quetta Gladiators and will make us even more stronger in @thePSLt20 season 4.
One of the best spinners in the world and can play match-winning knocks as well #NarineTurnsGladiator #ShaanePakistan pic.twitter.com/k8zN9a9in8
Narine had joined Lahore Qalandars in season two of the PSL and has picked up 20 wickets for the franchise at an average of 20.65.
Earlier, the Gladiators had also secured the services of Pakistan pacer Sohail Tanvir from Multan Sultan after trading a Diamond round pick in the upcoming player draft.
Meanwhile, former New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum will not be turning out for the Lahore Qalandars in the next edition.
“A big thank you to Lahore Qalandars for the past two seasons. Today we have parted ways but I leave with fond memories and friendships. I wish you all the best in the future. To the Rana family, a special thank you. Our friendship will always remain,” McCullum wrote on Twitter.
A big thank you to @lahoreqalandars for the past 2 seasons. Today we have parted ways but I leave with fond memories and friendships. I wish you all the best in the future. To the Rana family, a special thank you. Our friendship will always remain. @thePSLt20— Brendon McCullum (@Bazmccullum) November 3, 2018
Former Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq will be another big player who will not participate in the upcoming edition with the veteran transitioning to a non-playing role for Islamabad United.
“Islamabad United has always greatly valued Misbah as a player, leader and a superb team player. As he transitions into his non-playing phase, we believe he can add a lot of value to ISLU as well as to Pakistan,” Islamabad United manager Hasan Cheema said in a statement earlier this week.
“The franchise continues to discuss with him avenues which could provide him a platform to pursue his next phase. These discussions continue and deserve the confidentiality which a senior player like him deserves.”
Lahore Qalandars’ director of cricket Aaqib Javed believes the PSL franchise are beginning to reap the rewards of their development programme following their Abu Dhabi T20 triumph.
Qalandars defeated South African outfit Multiply Titans by 15 runs in Saturday’s final at Sheikh Zayed Stadium. It was their third consecutive victory in the six-team tournament that also attracted Yorkshire Vikings (England), Boost Defenders (Afghanistan), Auckland Aces (New Zealand) and Hobart Hurricanes (Australia).
Javed’s side, who finished bottom of the PSL in each of the last three seasons, were without their stars players like Brendon McCullum and Yasir Shah in the three-day event.
Instead, Qalandars fielded a squad made up of a majority of players that were noticed during various trials across Pakistan and developed in the past three years.
For instance, young pacer Haris Rauf was among those to impress and Javed was delighted to see that the hard work is paying off.
“This isn’t an ordinary win,” said the former UAE coach. “There is a history behind it with all the hard work that we have been doing in the last three years. During that last period, we trialled around 450,000 kids in three years. Every year we go across Pakistan and it’s an opportunity for everyone to get noticed.
“We went all across Pakistan and then this season, we trialled around 200,000 kids and then made them in the A team of (Qalandars) and then give them an opportunity to play a tournament like this.
“Around two months ago, some of these players were living in remote villages that there isn’t even a cricket ground in their radius of 50km. I’m so glad Haris Rauf is bowling at 147km. You saw the batting of Sohail Akhtar. He quit cricket and did then office work. We trialled him again and here he is with us and I think he will play a big role in PSL.”
Javed was a key member of the Pakistan squad that triumphed in the 1992 World Cup but he believes his latest accomplishment sits among the best.
“Three years on the Qalandars player development programme, this is the number one for me in my career. Then winning the 1992 World Cup as a player and then anything else,” he added.
The fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) will see a total of eight matches played in Pakistan itself with the rest of them taking place in the UAE.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the PSL governing council presided upon by Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chief Ehsan Mani at Lahore on Saturday.
The fourth edition of the T20 league will get underway on February 14, 2019 at Dubai with the final eight matches taking place in Pakistan.
Just like the third edition, the final of the tournament will take place at Karachi on March 17.
“PCB and all PSL franchises are partners in this project and I am confident that we will all work together to bring in good numbers for our next rights cycle,” Eshan Mani said after the meeting.
The meeting also saw the pick order for the upcoming Players’ Draft decided upon. The picks will be based on the team rankings from the last edition with each franchise being allowed to retain a maximum of 10 players.
“It was decided that this year’s draft would be based on last year’s rankings with teams being allowed a maximum of 10 retentions. For PSL 5 onwards, all franchises agreed to introduce a randomized draft order,” a PSL spokesman said.
Eight games being held in Pakistan this time round represents a significant increase from the last edition. In the 2018 edition, only the two knock-out matches and the final were held in Pakistan with the rest of them being held in the UAE.
The upcoming edition of the PSL will see AB de Villiers join as a marquee player with the retired South African star confirming his participation in the league recently.