DUBAI: Aaqib Javed, the head coach and director of cricket operation at Lahore Qalandars, has said that his team is looking to start the PSL 2019 on a winning note.
Qalandars will play defending champions Islamabad United in the inaugural match of the fourth edition of PSL and Aaqib is confident that his side has now got all the elements that are needed for a winning combination.
“All the teams have gone through major reshuffles this season, we have some very good options this time in all departments, this is something we were lacking in previous editions,” said the former Pakistan pacer.
“It is important that when we go into the tournament, our players are in best of their forms because in this format of cricket, the form of top players is very important. We are playing the opening match and we aim to start the tournament on a winning note,” Aaqib shared.
Replying to a question, he said that Lahore Qalandars have worked hard in the last three seasons to build and develop on players and it is time for the players to deliver.
He expressed confidence that Qalandars’ hard work will be paid off and fans won’t be let down this time.
“Lahoris have waited a lot for the title. You always need time to build a proper team. We want to win the title by hard work, not by just some stroke of luck,” he said.
“We developed our players and now depending on them, winning with these players would be a great joy for all of us.”
While talking about different PSL teams, Aaqib said that along with Lahore, he sees Multan Sultans and Quetta Gladiators as among the tough teams in the tournament.
“Multan Sultans seem to be a good team as well and on their day, the team can pose a threat to any opponent. Quetta are also very good. I think Multan and Quetta along with Lahore Qalandars are favourites for the tournament,” he said.
Talking about players developed by Qalandars, Aaqib said that he has high hopes from the likes of Sohail Akhtar and Haris Rauf.
He said that Sohail Akhtar will have an important role in the team’s batting lineup.
“We have been working on Sohail Akhtar for over a year now. He has been training with us, toured Abu Dhabi and Australia and now he is someone who can make a difference by batting at top order,” he said.
“People consider him a pinch hitter but we - the Qalandars management - believe that he’s a proper batsman. We have high hopes from him.”
Terming Haris Rauf as a genuine pacer, Aaqib said that Haris – who was spotted in the player development programme – is one who can bowl at 150kmph.
“I want him to bowl with maximum speed because I think he is the one who can fill the vacuum of a genuine pacer in the country. He’s the kind of bowler who can change the game in an over.”
He further said that Mohammad Hafeez is a completely different captain from Brendon McCullum.
“He is involved with players in every moment of the game which we needed in our captain,” he said.
Aaqib added that Fakhar Zaman, Sohail Akhtar, Mohammad Hafeez and Shaheen Shah Afridi will be important players among the local signings for this season.
He also highlighted that youngsters in the squad will have an opportunity to learn from AB de Villiers during the tournament.
“AB de Villiers’ presence will be very important not only for the team but also for the youngsters who can learn a lot from his style of fearless cricket,” Aaqib said when asked how important it is for youngsters to have someone like AB sitting next to them in the dugout.