RAWALPINDI: Over 10,000 aspiring Qalandars, aiming to be part of PSL team Lahore Qalandars, appeared in open trials on day one of two-day player development program trials in Pindi Stadium on Saturday.

A large number of players arrived in the stadium since morning – hours before the trials were scheduled to commence. They were chanting slogans in support of Lahore Qalandars and its owner Fawad Rana.

“I am very hopeful that by appearing in these trials, I will get a proper opportunity to show my skills. This trial could be my first step towards achieving my dream of playing for Pakistan,” said an aspiring Qalandar Adil Ali.

The coaching panel of Lahore Qalandars, headed by former pacer Aaqib Javed, analyzed the players’ skills at six different pitches throughout the day.

“Rawalpindi has always produced some great talent for Pakistan. Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Wasim, Azhar Mahmood are top players who came from this region and helped Pakistan win several matches,” said Aaqib Javed while talking to this correspondent.

“I am very hopeful that a program of this scale will help us find more players like Akhtar, Wasim and Azhar,” he hoped.

Aaqib said that around 500 players are shortlisted for the second phase of trials which will be conducted on Sunday at the same venue.

“The second day trials will see the real talent of a player. On first day we checked the basic skills and on second day players will undergo four further stages of analysis before being picked among 16 for Pindi Qalandars,” said the former fast bowler who was also part of Pakistan’s victorious cricket team of 1992 world cup.

The trials were also witnessed by former speedster and Pindi’s own Shoaib Akhtar, who also tested himself on nets by bowling to aspiring batsmen during the trials.

“Players requested me to bowl on nets so I did and with both my knees injured, I bowled at the speed of 70mphs. I will try to bowl again tomorrow,” Akhtar said.

“But, I must say that this is a great opportunity for players. I am very hopeful that Qalandars will be able to find another Shoaib Akhtar from these trials,” he said while encouraging fast bowlers to bowl aggressively and enjoy the pace.

The turnout in Pindi was also overwhelming for the management of Lahore Qalandars who believe that these trials will give a positive image of Pakistan around the world.

“We are a sport-loving nation and a large number of players appearing in these trials is evidence of this. But, along with cricket, we are determined to promote culture, heritage, and beauty of Pakistan as well,” said Atif Rana, the CEO of Lahore Qalandars.

He said that PDP has become an international brand as the project of “Pardesi Qalandars” has received a tremendous response from all over the world.

“We have already received videos of thousands of cricketers from around the world, our team of coaches is working on it and shortlisted 50 aspiring pardesi qalandars will be invited to Lahore for final trials,” Rana added.

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