The Lahore Qalandars are a professional cricket franchise that plays in the Pakistan Super League. This is one of five city franchises that was sold by the Pakistan Cricket Board in 2015, entitling the owners to keep the franchise for a total of ten years, beginning with the opening season of the PSL in 2016.
Lahore Qalandars represent the city of Lahore and the province of Punjab. This is a city that carries a population of over 10 million people, and a province that holds more than 100 million. As a result, the Lahore Qalandars had the backing of a vast army of Pakistan cricket fans and had a long and bright future ahead of it from the moment it was purchased. However, those expectations weren’t to be realized, at least not immediately, as the Lahore Qalandars really struggled to get to grips with the PSL in the opening seasons.
The Lahore franchise was one of the most sought-after when it was put up for sale by the Pakistan Cricket Board. It was second only to Karachi, and as a result it became the second most expensive franchise sold. It was also one of the few sold to an international company, as it was eventually picked up by the Qatar Lubricants Company for a sum of $24 million.
After the purchase the Lahore Qalandars immediately set about building for the future. One of the first things they did was to create a development program that set out to find the very best young talent across Pakistan. They were hoping that they could find the superstars of the future at a young age, nurturing them toward great things.
This program covered all major cities in Pakistan and created a shortlist of the very best players they found. These shortlisted players were then split into two groups. The best of them would be invited to play for the Lahore Qalandars. The rest would be sent to Australia to train with Sydney Thunder.
It was because of this program that the Lahore Qalandars were able to identify the talents of players like Aqib Javed. And while it hasn’t had any major positive effect right now, it will likely be something that will pay off big time in a few years. By then, the Lahore Qalandars could have done what the greatest sports teams in the world have done, building from scratch, saving money and eventually creating a team of winners.
The opening season of the Pakistan Super League was one to forget for the Lahore Qalandars. They struggled to get to grips with the league and lost game after game. They ended the season with just 2 wins from 8 games and were the only team not to make it through to the playoffs.
Because of the forgiving nature of the PSL, they would have still qualified for the playoffs if they had won their final game of the season, but they did not. With a 25% win rate overall, they didn’t do enough to scrape through and they finished the season bottom of the table as a result.
The 2017 season began brightly for the Lahore Qalandars and within just three games they had already matched their title wins for the entire 2016 season. This included a win over the defending champions Islamabad United in their second game. It finally looked like the pieces were falling into place for the Lahore franchise.
As is usually the case with teams in the PSL, the Lahore Qalandars have a great number of sponsors, ambassadors and partners. These include the Aussie team Sydney Thunders, who help them with their development program. They are also sponsored by the owners, who use their branding throughout the team, and by Royal Palm, Millat Sports, Geo TV, Huawei, and many others.
During their first season Lahore Qalandars drafted Chris Gayle. This was a huge steal for the franchise, especially considering his performances in the T20 World Cup of the same year. However, even with this West Indies legend on their team, and even with a relatively strong squad built of capable Pakistan players, they just weren’t able to compete with the other four teams in the league.
In the second season they traded away Chris Gayle for Sohail Tanvir. They also signed the New Zealand legend Brendon McCullum, who had only recently retired from international duties.
There were many positives to come out of the opening season of the PSL. One of these was the fact that Umar Akmal picked up the highest run total throughout the tournament, winning the “Best Batsman” award for his efforts. The Lahore Qalandars also won the “Spirit of the Game” award for sportsmanship. Umar Akmal also found his way into the record books following the first season when his 7 catches in 7 matches topped anything that any other fielder could manage.