SHARJAH: The Pakistan Super League has given a new hope to little known players from remote areas, those who have no chance of making it big at the domestic circuit, said Lahore Qalandar’s Sohail Akhtar.
The 32-year-old has emerged as a hard hitting batsman for Lahore Qalandars, he has now been given a role as an opener in the fourth edition of the PSL this year.
Among the six franchise, Lahore Qalandars stand out in unearthing unknown players like Salman Irshad, Haris Rauf and Sohail Akhtar and developed them under their programme, taking the greenhorns to Australia for further grooming.
Despite making his first class debut in 2013 and a bit of performance of note in the National Twenty20, Sohail only earned a name through PSL 2018 where he came with a reputation of being a clean hitter. But coming down low in the order, he got limited chances.
This year he has been given a new role of opening the innings with Fakhar Zaman. That has provided Sohail to finally started to live up to his potential.
“I used to call players from my region (Abbottabad) for trials but they were so disheartened that they would instantly refuse, saying that its a waste of time and money,” recalls Sohail.
“But since the start of the PSL and the emergence of players like Haris, Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan and others they are now willing to come for trials. PSL has given a new hope to unknown players from remote areas,” said Sohail.
“Now I get calls every day with players saying that they want to give trials,” said an excited Sohail. “By the emergence of players like Haris Rauf all the little known players now have hope. If there was no PSL there would have been no such thing.”
The dashing batsman from Abbottabad smashed 37 and 39 in quick time in the first two matches and promises more in the tournament.
Sohail praised the management of Lahore for unearthing raw talent.
“Particularly franchise like Lahore has worked very well,” said Sohail. “Look at the way Haris came to the fore and a lot of players now come for the trials because they have hope that if Haris can make it then any other player can make it big.”
Sohail too started at lower level.
“I started playing cricket from district Haripur and then played for Abbottabad. Then I played from Candy Land and National Twenty20 from Abbottabad. But after some time I left cricket and did some office work.
Then one day my coach Ayaz Yousuf Zai called me and told me that Aaqib Javed (former Pakistan paceman and head coach of Lahore Qalanadars) wanted to take my trial. I was initially reluctant. I was not willing to go but then I gave it a try.
“Aaqib Bhai praised me and said that I play well and put me in the Qalanadars’ DHA Academy. He prepared me and worked six to seven hours on me every day as my physical fitness was zero so he worked hard on me and got me ready for PSL,” recalls Sohail.
Last year’s PSL gave little chance to Sohail as he would come to bat in the last few overs but this year he has been given the task to open.