Lahore Qalandars and the art of winning dil se – Goa News

The Indian Express | 2 days ago | 01-04-2023 | 11:45 am
Deep into the night, hours after the official award ceremony, gifts continued to rain on Pakistan Super League champions Lahore Qalandars last week. Having retained the title, a feat never achieved before, the franchise owners were setting new standards in Lahore’s famous magnanimity. Cash bonuses, iphones and plots of land for the entire squad, these were unheard-of winning incentives in any T20 league. Even the billion-dollar trendsetting tournament – the Indian Premier League.The windfall was in proportion to the performances of the players. Captain and PSL ’23 final’s Man of the Match Shaheen Afridi, season’s top run-getter and wicket-taker – Fakhar Zaman and Rashid Khan – were Lahore’s new landlords. They got three kanals each – roughly 1,500 square metres – in Qalandar City, a residential project in Lahore developed by the team owners. Additionally, the ‘Afridi’ name plate will also be on a farmhouse in this gated community.The Rana brothers, Atif and Sameen, are Qalandars’s large-hearted owners. Within days of his team winning the trophy again, Sameen is back in Vancouver, Canada, where he lives with his family. Though tired after a long trip from Lahore, it’s easy for him to find the energy to talk about the incredible journey and the real estate gifts.“PLOTS hi PLOTS – iPHONE hi iPHONE”Full Video: #HBLPSL8 #qalandarhum #sochnabemanahai— Lahore Qalandars (@lahoreqalandars) March 19, 2023“It’s what one does in a family. If your child or your sibling tops his class exams, we give them gifts – a watch or phone. It’s a feel-good gesture that makes people happy. Same with the iphone and plots, it’s unconventional but an emotional thought. You know, our team is all about emotions,” Sameen says.🏆 @thePSLt20 at 🇮🇳🇵🇰 border#qalandarhum— Lahore Qalandars (@lahoreqalandars) March 23, 2023The videos put out by the Qalandars social media team give visuals to Sameen’s words. The superstars – Shaheen, Rashid and Fakhar – do look pleased but it is the faces of the lesser-known Qalandars that are beaming with unbridled joy.Owning land in Lahore is an audacious thought, even for Pakistan’s elite. The team’s masseur Malang, unable to contain his excitement, breaks into a martial art routine. There are squeals of laughter, cat calls and, of course, impromptu bhangra. The Qalandar dressing room could well be the living room of a Lahore home in the middle of a Big Fat Punjabi wedding. Cousins and uncles cracking jokes, just happy to be in the company of each other.Qalandar Hum ♥️#sochnabemanahai— Lahore Qalandars (@lahoreqalandars) March 23, 2023The Ranas have put together a bunch of merry men from diverse cultures. The making of this well-balanced champion side has taken time and effort. These boys have seen bad days. In five of the first six PSLs, they didn’t even get past the group stage. Lahore fans are brutal, they wanted coach Aquib Javed to be sacked.The owners too weren’t spared. They were called misfits. Sameen is a chartered accountant, whose 25-year-long ‘accountant to CFO’ professional journey took him to top multinationals like Schlumberger, Royal Dutch Shell, Oman Oil Company and General Electric.Having returned to Pakistan, from his base in Canada, when his elder brother Atif, an affluent businessman dealing in lubricants, bought the PSL franchise, Sameen was the team manager, a point man in the dugout, dressing room and team bus. With him as the face of the team, everyone, including his family, blamed him for the disastrous start. The early, and premature, diagnosis being: Sameen was too nice a guy to run a Pakistan cricket team.Cricket Champions ki HOCKEY League ki Tayarian#qalandarhum #qalandarcity— Lahore Qalandars (@lahoreqalandars) March 22, 2023“I would believe in players, give them support, love them and expect them to do as per their skills. This wasn’t how cricketers in Pakistan could be managed, I was told,” he says. In a set-up that saw franchise owners as lords and masters, Sameen was being an outlier. He was trying to be a friend or brother. With results not coming, he tried to change his work approach but it didn’t work.Change in approachAround Season 4, Sameen decided to be himself. It was a resolve that had been instilled in him very early in life. All thanks to a song from the 1990s Amir Khan blockbuster Rangeela and the impressionable mind of a young boy.Great Gesture from Lahore Qalandars – Appreciation for ALL“This is why we call it a FAMILY”#PSL08 #qalandarhum #SabSitarayHumaray #QalandarsCity— Lahore Qalandars (@lahoreqalandars) March 22, 2023Sameen remembers words. “Duniya mein jo jeene ke andaaz ko na jaane; maathe ya haathon pe, chaand ya taaron mein, kismat ko dhoondhe, par khud mein kya hai yeh na jaane,” he recites the philosophical lines that are about the futility of looking around in the search of the right way of life when the answer lies within.Wisened by his tumultuous cricket rendezvous, Sameen shares his learning. “There is nothing right or wrong, but the problem is when people try to copy the winning formulas that are prevalent in the market. We fight with what we are and try to be what we are not. But when you know what you believe in and stick to it, you get success,” he says.Trophy CELEBRATIONS in Qalandars Office 🏆#PSL08 #qalandarhum #QalandarsCity— Lahore Qalandars (@lahoreqalandars) March 21, 2023The Qalandars’s success story could be a case study for franchises hunting for titles in the T20 jungle. The Lahore franchise has proved that the low-on-patience, fly-by-night operators with short-term goals, can’t sustain success. What works is emotional investment, continuity, handpicking like-minded players and walking the extra mile to treat the team as family.Unbelievable Scenes in KASHMIR on Arrival of @ZamanKhanPak – The Last Over Specialist. #QalandarHum #QalandarsCity #SabSitarayHumaray #HBLPSL8 #sochnabemanahai— Lahore Qalandars (@lahoreqalandars) March 20, 2023It was this philosophy that hand-held Shaheen evolve from a shy and awkward 16-year-old to the Qalandars’s double PSL winning captain and Pakistan cricket’s MVP. The Lahore franchise was the important destination in world-class opener Zaman’s journey from remote Chakswari in Mirpur district to the national team. Zaman Khan, till two years back, lived in a tin-roof mud shed. In PSL ’23, he was Qalandar’s last-over hero with a plot at a tony Lahore neighbourhood and a national cap. This year, rolling out of the Qalandars talent factory were two Pakistan players – Zaman and batsman Abdullah Shafique.Still for everyone at Qalandars, Haris Rauf remains the brightest star who underlines the franchise’s commitment to player development. Their talent hunt camps in the interior regions of Pakistan attract around a lakh hopefuls. Few years back, Haris was one of them. The pacer was virtually picked from the streets and made into a world-class fast bowler. A tape-ball cricketer, he used to work at a traditional snacks outlet of nationwide chain Nimco – Pakistan’s Haldiram. Aquib spotted him and carved him into a 150 kph bowler with skills to torment the best in the world.GOOSEBUMPS“SHUKRIYA FANS”#victorylap #HBLPSL8 #qalandarhum #SabSitarayHumaray— Lahore Qalandars (@lahoreqalandars) March 19, 2023Qalandars’s turnaround was interesting. It’s about how ‘two words’ dramatically changed the fortunes of the team. Originally, Sameen’s team had a simple slogan – Main hun Qalandar (I am Qalandar). It was at the end of the Season 4 that Sameen thought there was something missing. The slogan needed more emotion, it had to have more heart, he thought. And thus was born the team’s updated motto – Main hun Qalandar, Dil se.“We wanted players who cared for the brand Qalandar. It wasn’t just a professional bond but had to be more than that. We wanted players who played ‘dil se’. The first who caught my eye was David Wiese,” says Sameen.Unconventional choiceWiese is a classic T20 journeyman, a South African who now plays for Namibia. At 37, he has a modest international record but enjoys cult status in Lahore. The PSL has given him a fresh lease of life and name too. In the dressing room, they call him Murshid – Urdu for teacher or guide. He was once presented with a Qalandars jersey with Murshid written on it.“From Team Hotel to CHAMPIONS stage” Complete BTS of PSL 8 Final 🔊#HBLPSL8 #qalandarhum #QalandarsCity #lqvms— Lahore Qalandars (@lahoreqalandars) March 19, 2023It was during an inconsequential game of a disastrous season that Wiese caught Sameen’s eye. With Qalandars already knocked out of the tournament, the team was down and out. To lift the spirits of the team, the owner, true to his nice guy image, took them out for dinner on match eve. To his disappointment, the meal didn’t change the mood. On the field, the next day, the players went through the motions. Wiese was the exception, he was giving his “200 per cent”, according to Sameen.Next season, he would retain Wiese for a hefty price. Once again, the world would laugh at Sameen and Co for making a bad call. This was till Wiese smashed 27 runs in the final over and defended eight runs from six balls in the second innings to take Qalandars to the final last year. This year too, he held two crucial catches in the final. These efforts got him a few kanal of land in Lahore.“Paglo Rulao Gy Kia” @iShaheenAfridiWatch the Special Celebrations in the Dressing Room#QalandarHum #Qalandarscity #HBLPSL8 #SabSitarayHumaray #LQvsMS— Lahore Qalandars (@lahoreqalandars) March 18, 2023Shaheen was another player the Qalandars gave their heart to. Sameen, father of two teenage daughters, parented the 17-year-old when he joined the team. “I imagined how my daughter would feel in the new set-up, so I did my best to make him feel at home,” he says. Though, what made the owner earmark him as a future captain was an incident in his first year with Qalandars. “He met me once at breakfast after a bad game. He told me he wanted to return the cheque that he had got from us. I was touched. I gave him a hug and a kiss. I had found another Qalandar with a heart,” recalls Sameen.He also shares a story about the unusual name of his team. Expectedly, a lot of thought and emotion had gone into it. For the brothers, and the Rana family, it is a constant reminder of their departed mother.🗣️ “Akhri Ball Tak Larey Gy”#HBLPSL8 #SabSitarayHumaray #LQvPZ #qalandarhum #qalandarscity— Lahore Qalandars (@lahoreqalandars) March 17, 2023Sameen, the youngest of nine siblings, was his mother’s pet. The Ranas had a tough childhood in Sialkot. Their father was a dispenser, a doctor’s helper, and mother was a home-maker. The modest family budget didn’t come in the way of the children pursuing education. The family has doctors, engineers and a CA. After the father’s death, it was their mother, Kausar, who raised the children.Both Atif and Sameen were keen to name the franchise in memory of their mother.Lahore Ma or Lahore Kausar didn’t sound right. It was a suggestion on email – Lahore Qalandar – that made me make an inspired choice. “Qalandars are all about selflessness, that’s what our mother was,” he says. Now, they wanted to be Qalandars not just in name but in spirit too.Atif, meanwhile, says hidden in the name is the struggles and success of his team. “When you call yourself Qalandars, it can’t be that your resolve doesn’t get tested. Allah kehta hai ki vakai yeh Qalandars hai ki bus aise hi. So we didn’t win till our player development came to the forefront. We won when Shaheen became the leader, Haris became a hero and Zaman came from Chakswari to add his weight to the team,” he says.Sameen says it’s not easy to be a Qalandar. Until, of course, you are Qalandar, Dil see.
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