Former Pakistan T20 captain Mohammad Hafeez's leadership qualities and experience will benefit Lahore Lions in this tournament © Getty Images
Former Pakistan T20 captain Mohammad Hafeez’s leadership qualities and experience will benefit Lahore Lions in this tournament © Getty Images

Lahore Lions (LL) began their campaign in the Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014 on a winning note against the defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) side on Saturday. Devarchit Varma explains why the Pakistani side will be one of the strongest sides in the tournament and the other sides will have to be wary of them.

With the chaos surrounding their participation in the CLT20 2014, there had been a lot of discomfort for the team from Pakistan. It is one thing to prepare for a tournament with all the time in hand, compared to getting a nod for participation at the last moment. The situation gets even more difficult if a side has to play in a slam-bang version, where there is a lot of uncertainty and the players as well as teams need to be on top of their performance always in order to get favourable results.

It would certainly have been tough for LL to keep anxiously waiting for their participation in CLT20, and the last moment confirmation would certainly have given them some jitters as they are up against the best Twenty20 sides from all over the world. But they put aside all the challenges and had their mind over matters. They kept calm as they romped home to a six-wicket win, which will give them immense confidence.

The Pakistani players have always expressed their desire to play in India, and despite the bilateral cricket between India and their arch rivals not getting back to the normal as yet, there has always been a lot of interest about the possibility of Pakistani players participating in the tournaments like the Indian Premier League (IPL) and CLT20.

With LL getting the nod to participate in the CLT20 2014, the competition has got spiced up. The excitement quotient is also a notch higher with their qualifying round win over the local favourites MI. LL produced an all-round show in their first match to boost their chances of making it to the next round, and their qualification will only ignite different kind of interest. Indian fans have not seen many Pakistan players up and close, and LL’s participation provides them a chance to see some of the superstars from across the border.

Bilateral cricket between India and Pakistan has always witnessed huge fan following across the globe, and the presence of a side as strong as LL will be a new experience for the fans. The likes of the sedate Mohammad Hafeez, the dangerous Umar Akmal and the belligerent Ahmed Shehzad, the in-form Wahab Riaz and the solid Nasir Jamshed along with many talented domestic cricketers makes LL a side to watch out for in any tournament, and their emphatic show in the first qualifier proves that the Pakistani side will give the other sides a run for their money in the tournament.

There were a few nervous moments for LL against MI, but they have enough experience and firepower in their ranks to upset some of the best sides in the world. The off-spinner Adnan Rasool was certainly a revelation on Saturday in the game against MI. LL will also be fancying their chances as the tournament is being held in the subcontinent, where the overseas teams generally struggle.

Complete coverage of Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014 here

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)