Without doubt the Pakistan Super League (PSL) has paved the way for youngsters to showcase their skills to the world audience. It surely has given us some great exciting sensations like Hassan Ali, Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Rumman Raees and Mohammad Nawaz.
Above all, it has given chance to the franchises to work on the grassroots level. And the phenomenal work which Lahore Qalandars, Karachi Kings and Peshawar Zalmi have done is surely an effort laudable at every level. They have done what the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) failed to do in more than 60 years. They arranged trials and provided opportunity to the people of far-flung areas. Players have been selected for the third edition from the picturesque valley of Kashmir as well as from Sukkur.
It came as a surprise when Lahore Qalandars arranged trials in Kashmir and over 35,000 players poured in. A fast bowler named Salman Irshad was picked and he went to Australia with the Qalandars team and performed luminously and was picked by a club there. When he returned to his town the heroes’ welcome he got brought a new ray of hope and light to the neglected people of Kashmir.
The Qalandars introduced the Jazz rising stars programme. Last year they brought Yasir Jan to the fore who has the ability to bowl with both hands. In September last year they arranged a two-day trial in Faisalabad where 22,000 players turned up and the panel selected 16 aspiring players to represent the Faisalabad team. The second edition of rising stars provided opportunity to 160,000 players from Punjab and Kashmir.
The Punjab edition discovered Haris Rauf who can bowl at 150 plus kmph. The rising star tournament has been a roller coaster event having eight teams from Punjab and Kashmir. It was played in front of sellout crowds at Gaddafi Stadium. The credit for that goes to Fawad Rana, Aaqib Javed and the whole Qalandars setup.
The word Zalmi stands for youth in the northern parts of Pakistan. A few months back Peshawar Zalmi came up with a programme of 100 pitches in KPK which will help not less than 10,000 players. The Peshawar Zalmi foundation introduced the Zalmi School League along with KP government. It was in two phases and had teams like Peshawar, Bannu, Hazara and Malakand. The youngsters selected from their talent hunt programme have managed to represent Pakistan at the under-19 level. Players were also sent to NCA to hone their skills.
The Karachi Kings launched their third season of Khiladi Ki Khoj in different parts of Sindh. After a grueling process, 350 players were shortlisted who went through professional training. From among them, 75 most promising players progressed to Karachi Ke Shehzade Tournament 2017 organized at Naya Nazimabad. Kings have also started a new programme named Street Kings which will identify and groom young and fresh talent.
These are all good efforts and should go a long way in promoting cricket in Pakistan.