Yasir Arafat says he is still hopeful of playing international cricket for Pakistan © Getty Images
Yasir Arafat says he is still hopeful of playing international cricket for Pakistan © Getty Images

By Saj Sadiq

Whilst the Lahore Lions continue to capture the imagination of Pakistani cricket followers in the qualifying round of the Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014 in India, another Pakistani who isn’t featuring for Lahore is looking forward to shine in the main round of this high profile T20 tournament. The 32-year-old Yasir Arafat, who will be representing Australia’s Perth Scorchers in CLT20 2014 , was an instant hit in his debut season in 2013, taking 12 wickets in six matches at an average of 14.45, as the Scorchers lifted the Big Bash title. Speaking to PakPassion.net, the Rawalpindi-born all-rounder, who has taken a total of 250 wickets in T20s is confident that Perth Scorchers can be counted amongst the favourites although he admits that the tournament is a tough one to call.

“Perth stands a good chance of winning the CLT20 2014 as we have a very strong all-round team with no obvious weaknesses. It will be a tough tournament as the world’s best Twenty20 domestic teams are there but I’m confident that Perth can perform well. The tournament is wide open with so many great players taking part so you never know what may happen as a brilliant performance from one individual can turn a match, but I think we stand a good chance” stated Arafat.

Arafat, who is considered by many as a death-bowling specialist with an exceptional yorker, also became a crowd favourite with the Perth fans during last season’s Big Bash. He continued, “I really enjoyed playing in the Big Bash for Perth, it was a good experience and the standard of cricket was exceptional. The Perth fans accepted me as one of their own and were very supportive. It was disappointing to miss the end of the Big Bash due to injury but apart from the injury the tournament was a very enjoyable one and I look forward to playing again for Perth in this season’s Big Bash.”

“I’ve obviously played a lot of cricket around the world and I’m always keen to test myself against the best. Once you are out on the field it doesn’t matter which team you are playing for, the most important thing is to give 100% and to ensure you play for the team rather than yourself,” Arafat said.

Arafat joins Perth on the back of a limited-overs County season with Sussex. He feels that the County side was unlucky with injuries to key players at crucial times. “It was great being back amongst friends at Sussex, but it was disappointing not to be able to help the county to any silverware. The team played some good cricket during the course of the season but unfortunately we lost important players at key moments in the season.”

Whilst Arafat waited patiently for his Indian visa application to be approved, his countrymen competing in the Champions League, the Lahore Lions stunned Mumbai Indians (MI) and defeated Sri Lanka’s representatives Southern Express to qualify for the main stage of the tournament, something that he feels they should be extremely proud of.

“Lahore has played some excellent cricket in the qualifying group and they’ve shown that Pakistan’s domestic cricket particularly in the twenty over format is quite strong. I was delighted for Lahore when they qualified and look forward to facing them in our encounter on 30th September in Hyderabad. Of course I know the opposition well so can hopefully provide some inside information to my Perth team mates, but I’m sure it will be a closely fought match,” Arafat said.

Arafat’s last appearance for Pakistan was in the match against India in the ICC World T20 2012 and he admitted that he still has the desire and hunger to play for his country.“I’m always there for Pakistan whenever they need me. You can play all around the world but there is nothing like playing for your country. I’m fit, ready and always available to play for Pakistan and don’t think I should be written off by the selectors just yet. In major tournaments such as a World Cup you need your experienced players and it would be wonderful if the selectors gave me a chance at next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand,” Arafat concluded.

Perth Scorchers are placed in Group A of the CLT20 2014, alongside Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Dolphins and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). They will begin their quest to become champions with a game at against Dolphins at Mohali on September 20.#

Complete coverage of Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014 here

(Saj Sadiq is Senior Editor at PakPassion.net, from where the above article has been reproduced. He can be followed on Twitter at @Saj_PakPassion)