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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 15 November 2018

Abu Dhabi T20: Lahore Qalandars and Multiply Titans to continue using tournament to showcase best young talent

Qalandars spinner Mazz Khan and Titans batsman Tony de Zorzi were the standouts of the six-team tournament

Lahore Qalandars and Multiply Titans say they will continue to use the Abu Dhabi T20 as a platform to develop young players and offer more experienced ones time in the spotlight.

Qalandars spinner Mazz Khan and Titans batsman Tony de Zorzi were the standouts of the six-team tournament, with Lahore beating the South African franchise by 15 runs in Saturday's final at Zayed Cricket Stadium.

“Mazz is 21 and comes from one of the most troubled areas in Bajor [in Pakistan] which is around 20 kilometres from the Afghanistan border,” said Sameen Rana, the Qalandars chief executive.

“This boy would have never thought he’ll be playing at this level, bowling to some top franchise team batters. He’s one of our outstanding finds and got a bright future ahead.”

Sohail Akhtar, 32, who scored a century in the first game and a match-winning 56 in the final, was given a second chance to play professional cricket after quitting the game for an office job.

“He had given up cricket for economic reasons and he was the top scorer in the Abu Dhabi T20,” Rana added.

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For the Qalandars, a wide scouting network has allowed them to harness some of Pakistan's untapped talent.

Shaheen Afridi, the 18-year-old left-arm pace bowler who made his debut for Pakistan in the Asia Cup in the Emirates last month, and fellow quick Harris Rauf both bowled at a top speed of 147kmp h in Abu Dhabi and are products of the Qalandars' development programme after being spotted playing taped-ball cricket.

“For me, the satisfaction I get is that we are able to contribute to people’s life by providing them the opportunities with their cricketing talents,” Rana said.

“We want to continue providing the opportunities to our future stars from the development squads in the Abu Dhabi T20 but ensure our marquee players [are] present.”

The Pakistan franchise has established a squad of Pakistani expatriates called the Pardesi Qalandars. Rana says he hopes to add UAE-based players to the squad in the future with a trial for players being mooted for when the team return to Abu Dhabi to defend their title next year.

“We have players selected from England, America, South Africa, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Spain,” he said.

“The UAE, particularly Abu Dhabi, will be on our radar. We started this project by requesting the prospective players to send us across a 90-second video clips and we received more than 25,000 from around the world.

“They also travelled on their own to attend the trials. We’ll certainly float the idea to have a trial in Abu Dhabi on our next visit, and perhaps, establish a fan base too.”

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Read more on Abu Dhabi T20:

Sohail Akhtar pays tribute to bowlers for Lahore Qalandars success

Lahore Qalandars win title with Titans victory

Vision for Abu Dhabi T20 Trophy to be cricket's own Club World Cup

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Jacques Faul, the Titans chief executive, said the Abu Dhabi T20 had allowed the previously unheralded De Zorzi to outshine even established internationals such as Albie Morkel. The former South Africa Under 19 captain blasted an unbeaten 106 against Yorkshire Vikings - the highest score of the three-day competition - and followed that up by top-scoring in the win over Auckland Aces to send Multiply through to Saturday's championship match against Lahore.

“We spend 20 million rand [Dh5m] a year in our area on development programmes,” Faul said. “South Africa has a sad history of people left for years without opportunities. For a black kid [De Zorzi] to play like that and those people still living in shacks to see this on TV is something out of this world. This is the power of sports.

“For a 21 year old he’s very level-headed and the most down-to-earth lad.

“He looked the left-handed AB de Villiers. He must be given more opportunities. This footage must have been watched by millions of people in South Africa.

“For me to watch this, I get goose bumps. Our social media erupted. I got very emotional when he got that hundred.”

Faul paid tribute to the Titans coach Mark Boucher for providing De Zorzi the opportunity to open ahead of the experienced Andrea Agathangelou who had just returned from a season in English county cricket.

“Mark could have easily gone with Agathangelou as opener, instead he gave that opportunity to De Zorzi,” Faul said.

“Mark is a coach who understands the opportunity a player gets. When De Zorzi came for breakfast the next day morning, his eyes were bigger than his omelette.

“He couldn’t believe what had happened to him. That’s the beauty of sport.”