CLT20 Staff in Johannesburg
Sialkot Stallions confident of making a mark
Skipper Shoaib Malik counts on his world record holders to come good in CLT20
One of the most exciting things about this year’s CLT20 is the participation of the Pakistan domestic T20 champions, Sialkot Stallions. As the first ever team from their country to participate in the high profile T20 competition, the Stallions have generated a lot of buzz even before taking field for their first game in the Qualifiers.
They might enter the competition as dark horses but the Stallions do know a thing or two about winning. They hold the world record for most number of consecutive T20 victories (25) as a team and as their skipper Shoaib Malik pointed out, “The T20 domestic competition is being held in Pakistan since nine years and the Sialkot Stallions have won seven times out of that.”
However, the standard of cricket is several notches higher in CLT20. Malik feels the mystery factor they bring to the table will be a plus for them. “The advantage is there because other teams haven’t seen our youngsters who haven’t played any international cricket.”
Malik’s confidence has its roots in Pakistan’s excellent record in big T20 tournaments. They have been one of the most consistent teams across all editions of the ICC World Twenty20 and Malik admits, “We kind of like this format”.
While the Stallions will be up against teams with big international stars, Malik is not losing sleep over how his inexperienced domestic players will take to the tough South African conditions.
“All our cricketers have been playing in England for the past 10-12 years and there’s not much difference between the conditions in England and South Africa. On the A team tours they have played in countries like Australia and South Africa as well. So, they have the awareness and have played with international cricketers.”
The conditions and wickets here will assist fast bowlers, and Pakistan do have a history of producing some of the best pacers. Malik picks Umaid Asif and Bilawal Bhatti as the young pacers to watch out for in the Stallions squad.