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In Conversation with Sameen Rana – COO and Manager of Lahore Qalandars

Lahore Qalandars are by far the most exciting franchise of PSL. While they’re off the field activities have been on point, they haven’t really been able to give their all on the field.


Lahore Qalandars are by far the most exciting franchise of PSL. While they’re off the field activities have been on point, they haven’t really been able to give their all on the field.

This year, they’ve had a stellar draft and look the strongest team on paper. We talked to Sameen Rana, COO, and Manager of the Lahore Qalandars and here is what he had to say about the draft and Lahore’s strategies and tactics for the upcoming season.

Q. How hard was it for you to let go of the likes of Narine and Umar Akmal?

A. It’s never easy to let players go and especially with Umar, who was with us since the very beginning. But franchise cricket is result-oriented and unfortunately, Umar was not in great form last year so we had to let him go.

As for Narine, he used to be the first name on our team sheet so it wasn’t easy letting him go. But we needed an extra Platinum pick so we had to let him go. But I’ll appreciate Narine even here for the spirit he showed, I was constantly in touch with him throughout the trade process and Narine was very supportive of the whole thing.

Q. You were clearly the winners of this draft. But we’ve seen you excel in drafts earlier too but failing in the tournament. What are you planning to do differently this season?

A. See luck hasn’t been on our side previously. Injuries to Gayle, Lynn, Bravo, Mustafiz and Yasir’s suspension etc right before the tournament really hit us hard in the previous seasons. It’s never easy to recover after losing your star players. But we’re hopeful this season. We were looking for an experienced domestic player who could lead us too and we’ve got Hafeez for that. So we’re really confident of doing well this season.

Q. Ab De Villiers is a true modern-day legend. How excited are you having him on-board?

A. AB is undoubtedly the greatest impact player of all time. And T20 cricket is all about impact. Personally, I’m very, very excited to have him onboard. It took us 3 years to get him but having him in our squad is a great psychological boost. Even if the opposition gets 2-3 of our players out early, they’ll still be wary about AB coming in later. So we’re really looking forward to having him with us.

Q. And Hafeez. The local boy returns and that too as Captain. What would you say about him?

A. Well, Hafeez bhai’s records speak for themselves. We were looking for a local captain who knew the ins and outs of all players and for that, we couldn’t have got anyone better than Hafeez. He’ll not only stabilize our middle order but his bowling will also prove to be deadly too. So Hafeez bhai is a great pick.

Q. Then you’ve got 3 big-hitting all-rounders in Sohail Akhtar, Anderson and REMEMBER THE NAME. How happy are you with your lower middle order?

A. Yes, very happy. Even if one of them tees off on their day, they’ll win us matches single-handedly. But with international players, every team has good players so that balances out the equation. I feel the team which has a good crop of domestic players generally does well.

So I’m really looking forward to 3 of our local players who we have high hopes from this year. Sohail Akhtar, Agha Salman, and Haris Rauf will prove to be our surprise packages and they’ll do wonders for us this season, InshaAllah!

Q. If there is a 1-week spot in your squad, that is the fast bowling department. What would you say about it?

A. I wouldn’t say our fast bowling is weak. We deliberately went for only Pakistani fast bowlers and we have great variety in them. Shaheen Shah will be our trump card and we have Rahat Ali, another left armer to complement him. And Rahat has shown in the previous seasons that he is very good with the new ball.

Then we have Haris Rauf and Aizaz Cheema as our right arm bowlers. And Aizaz Cheema has been the leading wicket-taker for 2 domestic seasons now so our fast bowling line-up is pretty good too.

Q. You must be very happy with Haris Rauf coming from your own Players Development Programme straight into the squad?

A. Yes, we found Haris on our own initiative. During the Abu Dhabi tournament, he constantly clicked 148kph. And since then, he’s been working in Australia so I’m hopeful that he’ll break the 150kph barrier during the PSL!

Q. What made you pick Sandeep Lamichanne? And what do you think about the impact franchise cricket can have on non-test playing nations?

A. Lamichanne is an excellent bowler. I first saw him in the IPL where he was bowling in tandem with Amit Mishra and Lamichanne outshone him there. So we’re really excited about him.

Franchise cricket has brought a very positive change in world cricket. Had it not been for these leagues, no one would’ve known Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, and Lamichanne etc. Even in Pakistan, Fakhar, Shadab, Faheem and Fakhar etc have graduated from the PSL so franchise cricket has brought a very positive change in cricket.

Q. A bit too early to ask but are any of your Foreign players willing to travel to Pakistan for the playoffs?

A. We’re confident of having our star players in Pakistan. Even with AB, we have good relations with him, with CSA, with their Players Association so we’re positive. And I think we should be able to bring Braithwaite, Taylor, and Devcich too. Yes, it is a bit early to commit anything but we’re positive about it.

Q. Finally, what can we expect from Lahore this year?

A. Winning and losing is part and parcel of the game but one thing I can assure you is that Lahore Qalandars will give their 200% in every department, on and off the field. That is what we ask from our players too and once that happens, beating Lahore Qalandars won’t be easy.

We’re really looking forward to this season and we hope we’ll give our fans plenty to cheer for!

We’d like to wish Lahore Qalandars all the very best of luck and we hope they do really well this season!

By Sannaan Siddique