ICL: Indian Cricket League

Pakistani stars make waves on Indian stage


More than 20,000 Indian fans were swaying to Atif Aslam’s latest hit Pehli Nazar Main. Less than ten minutes later it was his compatriot Annie mesmerising the crowed at a packed Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium as a group of Ukrainian cheerleaders danced to the tune of her super-hit single Mahiya.

And it all happened as Pakistani cricketers Imran Nazir and Taufeeq Umar were smacking the cricket ball to all corners of the stadium while opening the innings for Lahore Badshahs in the second final of the Indian Cricket League Edelweiss Challenge against Hyderabad Heroes.

Interestingly, it was another Pakistani Test discard Abdul Razzaq, who opened the proceedings for Heroes — the local favourites.

Forget all the fears we in Pakistan had about an Indian invasion if we opened up the doors on our bigger neighbour. As far as cricket and music — two huge passions across the sub-continent — are concerned, it currently feels like a big Pakistani invasion is taking place in India.

And the Indian public is loving it.

“A team entirely made up of famous Pakistani cricketers has really added colour to league,” says Munir, a local taxi driver.

Tournament organisers agree. “Badshahs have turned out to be real crowd pullers,” said ICL chairman Kapil Dev. “The capacity at the (Lal Bahadur Shastri) stadium is about 18,000 but today we have sold around 22,000 tickets. It’s an amazing response,” he added.

Former Pakistan captain is at the helm of the Badshahs that is coached by another ex-skipper Moin Khan. The team has some exciting players like Imran Nazir, Imran Farhat, Rana Naved, Mohammad Sami and Mushtaq Ahmed.

You could clearly hear chants of ‘Inzi bhai’, ‘Inzi bhai’ as the Sultan from Multan walked out of the dressing room to his team bus after the first final in Panchkula on Friday. Though Badshahs suffered a stunning six-run defeat against Heroes, the fans were still hovering around the Badshahs.

ICL people are thrilled with their popularity and have in fact been encouraged to add similar teams from around the world in their future events. Ambitious plans are in the pipeline to form city-based teams like Sydney, Colombo, Dhaka and Durban.

“The idea is to promote cricket,” said Kapil. “More and more players are showing interest in becoming a part our league and that is very satisfying for us,” added the former Indian skipper.

The Badshahs, meanwhile, were unable to match their popularity with performance and went down to Hyderabad Heroes in the finals.

But there will be another chance for them when feature as ICL Pakistan in a tri-series involving ICL India and ICL World XI starting from April 18.

Source:Cricket News

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This entry was posted on Monday, April 7th, 2008 and is filed under General, Cricket.

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