Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
The Lahore Lions will take part in this year’s Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) after all their players were issued Indian visas.
There was some doubt over whether the Lions would participate in the tournament due to India and Pakistan’s highly fragile political relationship.
The Lions will be captained by Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez and also boast other national team members such as Umar Akmal and Ahmed Shehzad.
Since the Lions are in the qualifying stages of the tournament, they will play the Mumbai Indians on September 13 before squaring off against Sri Lanka’s Southern Express and New Zealand’s Northern District.
“We are departing with confidence,” Hafeez said. “We all know how important the first stage is so we are focusing on qualifying for the next round. We, as a team, have been playing some exciting cricket in the last two years and the squad has gutsy players from our domestic circuit so we have an ability to fight at the top level.”
However, Hafeez revealed that the Lions have been training indoors for most of the time due to heavy rain.
“With a recent spell of heavy rain we weren’t able to get the practice we required but we have done ample indoor sessions so there should not be any problem,” Hafeez said. “We have the experience of six international cricketers and have quality players from our first-class set-up, who have an urge to represent Pakistan. So we have the right spirit in the team and we are ready for the challenge.”
Hafeez added that he is confident nothing bad will happen to the team in India. This comes after the Faisalabad Wolves were forced to leave their hotel in Chandigarh during last year’s CLT20. They ended up being moved to the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium since their visas were only valid in Mohali.
“Both India and Pakistan love cricket and we are hoping to have a very good time there,” he said. “We are going there with a message of love and I know how much they love Pakistan and its cricketers. Our aim is not only to play good cricket but also to play well off the field.”