LAHORE - Pakistan’s domestic Twenty20 specialists Sialkot Stallions will appear in this year’s Champions League competition in India. If the team led by Shoaib Malik does take the field, this would be the first time in four years that Pakistani players will play cricket in India.
BCCI chief N Srinivasan confirmed that a team from Pakistan will play in this year’s edition of the tournament, to be held in India in September, although final approval from the BCCI is yet to be given, the signs are very positive.
Speaking to the Pakpassion.net, Sialkot coach and former Pakistan all rounder Naved Anjum spoke of his delight at the news that Sialkot are likely to be taking part in the Champions League and also spoke of his wish that Indo-Pak cricketing ties resume on an international stage. “I’m not just looking forward to my team playing in the Champions League, but I feel it would be an honour to take part in such a tournament for myself and of course the whole of the Sialkot team and staff.”
Anjum who made his Test debut against India in Faisalabad in 1989, also hopes that the Champions League appearance for the Sialkot Stallions in India will be the re-launch of cricketing ties between India and Pakistan and the start of some great cricketing encounters between the neighbours and fierce rivals.
“I feel that the likely participation of Sialkot in the Champions League is a positive sign. Hopefully the Champions League will be the start of the resumption in cricket ties between India and Pakistan at an international level also. There is nothing quite like a Pakistan versus India encounter and it’s a shame that these matches are a rarity these days.” Sialkot have been the stand out performers in Pakistan’s Twenty over format and the team to beat over the years back home. Even without exposure in foreign conditions, Anjum feels that the Sialkot team can be a very competitive unit in the Champions League due to the prevalent team spirit and the quality of leadership under Shoaib Malik.
“We will provide a stiff challenge for our opponents, irrespective of who we come up against. Sialkot play very competitive cricket and all players have a very good understanding between them.
In fact, whenever we bring in a new player to our team which we normally do on an annual basis, we do so after giving a lot of thought for unity in team.