Champions League T20 2012 October 8, 2012

Sialkot Stallions finally get stage to strut their stuff

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Two of the teams at this year's Champions League would have made their first appearance in at the inaugural edition of the tournament in 2008.

The Titans have had the opportunity to qualify every year since then but only got it right in 2012. The other, the Sialkot Stallions, did not have that same chance. Relations between India and Pakistan soured after the Mumbai terror attacks of November 2008 and Pakistan players and teams found themselves shut out of the competition.

If a representative from Pakistan had been let into the tournament in the previous three editions, that team would have been Sialkot in two of them. They were Pakistan's domestic winners in 2009 and 2011, and 2012 - Lahore Lions took the crown in 2010. And if the Champions League existed before that, Sialkot would have participated in most of those editions too.

So prolific has their form in the shortest format of the game been, that Sialkot have won seven of the nine editions of Pakistan's domestic 20-overs competition. They also hold the world record for the number of consecutive victories by any team in T20 cricket, with 25 wins.

As far as reputations go, Sialkot enter the qualifying stage with one of the biggest and theirs serves as proof that they belong at this level, something their captain Shoiab Malik has never doubted. "Wherever cricket is being played, Pakistan cricketers should go and play there," he said. "We know there are certain rules and regulations, but that is my opinion."

Sialkot, Malik believes, will take their chance to show what they are about. "We really like this format and we have done well in it. This tournament is an opportunity for us."

The two other teams in their group, Auckland and Hampshire admit to knowing very little about the Pakistan champions but the numbers and Malik's strong words should be an indicator of what they are up against.

Part of their prowess could come from the mystery factor. "There is an advantage for us because the other teams haven't seen some of our youngsters who have not played international cricket," Malik said. He mentioned bowlers Umaid Asif (who is "not young though, actually quite old") and Bilawal Bhatti (whose "name may be very difficult for you to pronounce but just look at it on his shirt") as examples.

Pakistan's newest international left-arm spinner Raza Hasan, who Malik said the media "must have noticed at the World T20," is also in the Sialkot squad and big things are expected of him. Malik seems to want bigger things from the more experienced members of the squad though.

He hopes the likes of Imran Nazir, Naved-ul-Hasan and Sarfraz Ahmed can show that although Pakistan, as a place, has been in the international wilderness, their domestic competition is thriving. Importantly, he pointed out that these players have travelled enough and played enough to be more than ready to compete in a tournament like this.

"We have some players who were with the Pakistan team and a lot of our others have been playing in England for the past 10 or 12 years," he said. "They have that awareness of the game and they have played with international cricketers before."

Despite their bravado, Sialkot lost a warm-up match to Yorkshire by 23 runs on arrival. Malik blamed a heavy travelling schedule and poor timing for the defeat. "We arrived in South Africa at around midnight on Saturday evening and played the game the next morning. We were very tired and we are still a little tired. But it's great to be here, it's a great tournament and we are know we are prepared for it."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Farrukh.91. on October 9, 2012, 15:06 GMT

    Its good that Raza Hasan is present, bcz Abdur Rehman has been banned!

  • on October 9, 2012, 14:59 GMT

    4 teamz from ipl is a gr8 drama.....n all playing main round directly.....hahahaha...so cheap :@

  • ZMPK on October 9, 2012, 14:53 GMT

    it would be lot tough for Sialkot to survive without Abdur rehman

  • spiritwithin on October 9, 2012, 13:40 GMT

    even though i m an indian fan but i dont like 4teams from IPL and just one from SL,WI etc..lets there be two teams from each nation and not 4from india,2 from aus & SA and just one from all other countries....

  • on October 9, 2012, 11:28 GMT

    Though Stallions get record wins in domestic, but playing with world's best teams will bring lot of experience and talent for them. Wishing best of luck to Stallions.

  • Mushtaq5 on October 9, 2012, 11:03 GMT

    Best of luck Sialkot Stallions - We all supports you, Inshallah you will prove to be the best one.

  • Edassery on October 9, 2012, 10:33 GMT

    Although I am an Indian, I hate the format of this tournament where a number of IPL teams get to play. If it has to be really a champions' league, there has to be exactly ONE t20 team from each country playing each other without any qualification drama. Sounds like overdose of T20 cricket and a pure money oriented event.

  • AmjadZork on October 9, 2012, 10:29 GMT

    Best of Luck Sialkot !!!!!!!!!!!

  • AllahKeBande on October 9, 2012, 10:17 GMT

    @Ravi Darira: So mean to say each time PAK lost to IND in WC because ' They really dont want to'..HAHAHA

  • on October 9, 2012, 10:01 GMT

    Sialkot Stallion has to win both qualifying matches. Which makes this qualification very very tough. But if they qualify for Champions League T20; I am very hopeful, that they will prove themselves in next round.

  • Farrukh.91. on October 9, 2012, 15:06 GMT

    Its good that Raza Hasan is present, bcz Abdur Rehman has been banned!

  • on October 9, 2012, 14:59 GMT

    4 teamz from ipl is a gr8 drama.....n all playing main round directly.....hahahaha...so cheap :@

  • ZMPK on October 9, 2012, 14:53 GMT

    it would be lot tough for Sialkot to survive without Abdur rehman

  • spiritwithin on October 9, 2012, 13:40 GMT

    even though i m an indian fan but i dont like 4teams from IPL and just one from SL,WI etc..lets there be two teams from each nation and not 4from india,2 from aus & SA and just one from all other countries....

  • on October 9, 2012, 11:28 GMT

    Though Stallions get record wins in domestic, but playing with world's best teams will bring lot of experience and talent for them. Wishing best of luck to Stallions.

  • Mushtaq5 on October 9, 2012, 11:03 GMT

    Best of luck Sialkot Stallions - We all supports you, Inshallah you will prove to be the best one.

  • Edassery on October 9, 2012, 10:33 GMT

    Although I am an Indian, I hate the format of this tournament where a number of IPL teams get to play. If it has to be really a champions' league, there has to be exactly ONE t20 team from each country playing each other without any qualification drama. Sounds like overdose of T20 cricket and a pure money oriented event.

  • AmjadZork on October 9, 2012, 10:29 GMT

    Best of Luck Sialkot !!!!!!!!!!!

  • AllahKeBande on October 9, 2012, 10:17 GMT

    @Ravi Darira: So mean to say each time PAK lost to IND in WC because ' They really dont want to'..HAHAHA

  • on October 9, 2012, 10:01 GMT

    Sialkot Stallion has to win both qualifying matches. Which makes this qualification very very tough. But if they qualify for Champions League T20; I am very hopeful, that they will prove themselves in next round.

  • on October 9, 2012, 9:57 GMT

    malick nd company inshaallah proove thire point.this event is importent for malik i hope he will regain captaincy inshaalah

  • basitsnake on October 9, 2012, 9:54 GMT

    Just cant see them winning the tournament. could win the qualifiers though. the game v Auckland will be tough

  • Khans_word on October 9, 2012, 9:46 GMT

    All the Best to the Stallions. Rise up and rear up those hoofs and gallop through the luckless haystacks! Finally we have some representation from Pakistan in an international club tournament. Certain cricketing powers have tried with fail to oppress and nullify the country with the greatest raw cricketing talent! Its time to showcase to the world what the unknown and forgotten players have to offer and hopefully spoil the cunningly laid plans of the other unsportsman-like national cricket boards. Conspiratory theories may abound, but Arshad Rehman's loss to the Stallions seems well-timed for the opposition. Seems that controversy follows Pakistan like a incessent tick on a raging buffalo! Lets hope Malik et al can get to the tournament proper and dish out some real excitement!

  • on October 9, 2012, 9:38 GMT

    Best of luck SIALKOT STALLIONS..... :)

  • WickyRoy.paklover on October 9, 2012, 9:25 GMT

    @Hasan Abas,realy nice one!.......ACTUALLY I M MORE INTERESTD IN NATIONs Vs NATIONS RATHER THAN PLAYER A VS PLAYER B SO 4 D SAME REASON I REALY DN'T LIKE IPL,BBL,BPL,SLPL OR ANY OTHR LEAGUE,HOWEVR CHAMPINS LEAGUE Z MORE INTRESTNG 4 ME CNSIDRNG CLUBS REPRSNTNG THEIR NATIONS(EXCEPT RCB,MI,KKR,CSK) SO BEST OF LUCK S.S ESPECIALY HARIS SOHAIL AS HE Z D FUTUR 4 PAK BATNG N I HOPE HE WOULD PROVE HIMSLF WORTHY 4 PAK MIDL ORDR.

  • ZAB2121 on October 9, 2012, 9:13 GMT

    Adeel Malik (Shoaib Malik's brother) is a good all rounder. Hope he clicks in this tournament and makes his own identity.

    Does Sania has a younger sister? ;)

  • on October 9, 2012, 9:04 GMT

    stalians have potantial to win this tornament

  • on October 9, 2012, 8:41 GMT

    Its a chance for our team to prove & show that management was wrong in not considering Pakistani team for the event. I am sure these guys will provide a fantastic display of cricket. Mahmood Amjad

  • sweetspot on October 9, 2012, 8:19 GMT

    More fun! Let's not make this into some sort of nationalist jingoistic competition, people! The IPL is truly international in its team compositions, and that is what is fun about it. As time progresses we will see more mixing of players from all nationalities into all teams. Then we will simply root for brands. It is all in fun, but let's hope for some serious competition!

  • CricketMaan on October 9, 2012, 8:15 GMT

    I wonder what happens if Imran Nazir performs..will the selectors continue to fiddle with him or go for the likes of Asad Shafiq in the first XI for Pak. Time will tell.

  • Buckers410 on October 9, 2012, 7:32 GMT

    Go Perth and the Sixers. Will make the CL very bright and colorful

  • on October 9, 2012, 7:29 GMT

    I wont be surprised if Sialkot win this. Pakistan are the world's best talent and these guys can beat anyone anytime if they really want it.

  • on October 9, 2012, 7:05 GMT

    waooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

  • chandrathej on October 9, 2012, 6:54 GMT

    All the best Sialkot.. cricinfo please publish

  • kshitijheroes on October 9, 2012, 6:01 GMT

    Chennai Super Kings favourites to grab the title! Likes of Raina,Dhoni,Vijay,Ashwin,Badrinath,du Plessis. Win the title second time champs!!!!

  • ifrakurshid on October 9, 2012, 5:48 GMT

    SHOAIB MALIK AND HIS TEAM DO HAVE A POTENTIAL TO DO GOOD AND PERFORM WEL IF HE GELS NICELY WITH SENIOR PROFFESSOR ZAHEER ABBAS OF THE FIELD THAT WILL REFLECT ON THE FIELD PERFORMANCE TOO HE HAS A FAIR CHANCE TO PROOF HIS ABALITY AS CAPTAIN AND GIVING RESULTS IN GOOD LEADERSHIP, BATTING AND BOWLING HE HAS THE ABALITY TO DO SO. ARRIVING LATE OR TIRED ALL ARE LAME EXCUSES WHICH COULD BE OVER COME BY BETTER MANAGEMENT OF THE TIME JOINTLY AS PROFESSIONAL THEY HAVE TO KEEP MARGIN OF ALL ASPECT AND THEIR 3 PLANS SHOULD BE READY ALL THE TIME PRIMARY, SECONDARY AND ALTERNATE. BEST OF LUCK TO SIALKOT STTALION AND SHOAIB MALIK TO EARN A GOOD NAME FOR THEMSELVES AND FOR THE COUNTRY THEY REPRESENT.

  • on October 9, 2012, 5:27 GMT

    "From the desert I come to thee, On a stallion shod with fire; And the winds are left behind In the speed of my desire." ... If they make the semi-finals...They have won it all in my books :)

  • satish619chandar on October 9, 2012, 5:07 GMT

    Any Pakistan side is dangerous but at the same time, can be vulnerable too. Al the best Sialkot first to get into the main tournament and carry on from there.

  • on October 9, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    There are few good names in the side. My emphasis is on good names not the BIG Names. Wishing them the BEST of LUCK.

  • Asif_Iqbal on October 9, 2012, 4:38 GMT

    Go sialkot go we love you - I'm from Karachi

  • on October 9, 2012, 4:13 GMT

    PAkistans's Champions will Inshallah be the World Champs also

  • solankibhavesh on October 9, 2012, 2:51 GMT

    This is not T20 Cricket Champion league this is Entertainment for people and moeny machine for owner of team

  • agm_ on October 9, 2012, 2:02 GMT

    haha, firdose are you trying to audition for a page 2 column? loving malik's player descriptions :)

  • 12bil on October 9, 2012, 1:21 GMT

    we gona see what there performance is ..we hope that they come back soon in pakistan early in 3 or 4 days. good and come back soon,,,,.....

  • Ra_Thore on October 9, 2012, 1:04 GMT

    SS will get qualified and the fans will divide on national levels.:- THE CONTEST WILL BE A GREAT OUTLOOK.

  • Meety on October 9, 2012, 0:17 GMT

    It would be a great story if they won!!!

  • abmughal on October 8, 2012, 23:58 GMT

    i hope they will perform exactly we expect from them.... it would not be easy for them performing in SA conditions ..... best of luck

  • on October 8, 2012, 23:38 GMT

    Looking forward to see Harris Sohail play. He is an amazing talent and Pakistan should have included him in the WC squad.

  • brusselslion on October 8, 2012, 23:17 GMT

    Arggg .... not more 20/20.......Please can we get back to proper i.e. Test cricket

  • cricket_lover777 on October 8, 2012, 21:55 GMT

    I don't believe in such leagues; let it be IPL, BBL, SLPL or whatever. They are just ways to make money ! Promote more old fashioned 5 days of cricket. The REAL TEST of players.

  • Faizan1989 on October 8, 2012, 21:17 GMT

    @vilander why???? are you scared?? must be an Indian fan... mark my words stallions will rock the party, beware party poopers stallions arrived!!!!!!!!!!!

    c'mon Imran Nazir lets remind them ICL inning that you played \m/

  • on October 8, 2012, 19:50 GMT

    All the best to Malik's Stallions.....I hope the likes of Imran Nazir, Shoib Malik, Rana & Raza Hassan etc will give their best shot in the CL. Great to see you guys.

  • on October 8, 2012, 19:36 GMT

    Whereever Cricket is played, Pakistan is bound to leave a mark......

  • on October 8, 2012, 19:29 GMT

    Welcome Sialkot to champions league and hope Champions League governing body extends qualifications to many teams in future. We would love to see teams from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ireland and Netherlands. This will do wonders for the growth of cricket.

  • Vilander on October 8, 2012, 19:07 GMT

    hope they get trashed early.

  • on October 8, 2012, 18:54 GMT

    best of luck you ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  • on October 8, 2012, 18:35 GMT

    Why aren't qualifying for IPL Teams???

  • Cpt.Meanster on October 8, 2012, 18:32 GMT

    Stallions have some notable players. It's important they perform well here because it would put Pakistan domestic cricket on the world radar. They have some good players with a relaxed captain in Shoaib Malik. Looking forward to seeing them play.

  • on October 8, 2012, 17:48 GMT

    best of luck stllion...u will be the winner this time...u will be a surprise package for other teams in this league......

  • Jaysz on October 8, 2012, 17:36 GMT

    Although not as good as they were when they had 25 straight wins, and didn't loose a T20 game for over four years, they would still put up a decent show! Second time when winner of Pakistan's domestic T20 cup goes in an international tournament, first one being Faisalabad Wolves; who won International 20:20 Club Championship (2005) in England!

  • on October 8, 2012, 16:17 GMT

    I believe Rana and Raza will be key performers for Sialkot to win it !! Others are not good enough for teams like Hampshire or IPL teams

  • MJaved on October 8, 2012, 16:17 GMT

    Best of luck Sialkot Stallions.....hopefully they will qualify

  • Vernacular_Press on October 8, 2012, 15:59 GMT

    Hampshire looks the strongest in Pool1.

  • PAKISTANiLive on October 8, 2012, 15:43 GMT

    Insha Allah they will rock! & Shock other teams!

  • cyberstudent on October 8, 2012, 15:17 GMT

    This CLT20 will again prove that Shoaib malik can only perform in domestic level, best of luck SS.

  • Engr.Ikramullah on October 8, 2012, 14:55 GMT

    Best Of Luck For The Sialkot Stallions!!! Go And Steal The Show Stallions....

  • on October 8, 2012, 14:44 GMT

    best wishes for my team ..... Sialkot Stallions .

  • Syed_imran_abbas on October 8, 2012, 14:43 GMT

    They have big loss interms of Rehman. he is brilliant bowler and is very handy with bat as well. good luck guys.

  • ____sha___ on October 8, 2012, 14:31 GMT

    Thats Good. InshaALLAH Sialkot stalions will play at his best. and ther Captain Shaoib Malik is My favourit favourit favourit Cricecter.

  • InsideHedge on October 8, 2012, 14:25 GMT

    I hope to catch some of these games on TV here in the UK. The fact we've seen little of these teams/players makes it interesting.

  • on October 8, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    best of luck sialkot stallions, though its a big loss for them as their most experienced and talented bowler Abdur Rehman is out of squad due to ban. But still they can win it. BRING THE CUP HOME CHAMPS !

  • on October 8, 2012, 13:56 GMT

    GOD BLESS YOU MY BOYS GO AND ROCK THE WORLD :)

  • on October 8, 2012, 13:55 GMT

    Gd luCk StaliOns :)))) INSHALLAH SialkOt ll PerfOrm Well Under The Captaincy Of ShOaib Malik =]

  • on October 8, 2012, 13:52 GMT

    As excited as I am at seeing Sialkot Stallions finally take their rightful place in the world's domestic T20 teams, I cannot help but notice that the players who have been bringing glory for SS at home have all aged over the last decade. Hopefully, for those staring retirement in the eye, this will be a swan song!

    All the best boys!

  • on October 8, 2012, 13:52 GMT

    i got my fingers crossed for u guys

  • on October 8, 2012, 13:48 GMT

    best of luck @sialkout stallions my all good wishes are wid u :)

  • on October 8, 2012, 13:46 GMT

    Hmmmmm... great InshaAllah Sialkot Stallions will Win...........

  • on October 8, 2012, 13:43 GMT

    Sialkotians should have been given rest of at least one complete day. its strange they arrived the night before and played a match next morning. Harsh can cause injuries.

  • SKKhan on October 8, 2012, 13:39 GMT

    It will be a very tough ask for them, as they lack foreign international players and exposure to play in away conditions. If they make it to semis it be a big achievement on their part.

  • on October 8, 2012, 13:27 GMT

    Great Talent Upcoming Cricket Star ......

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  • on October 8, 2012, 13:27 GMT

    Great Talent Upcoming Cricket Star ......

  • SKKhan on October 8, 2012, 13:39 GMT

    It will be a very tough ask for them, as they lack foreign international players and exposure to play in away conditions. If they make it to semis it be a big achievement on their part.

  • on October 8, 2012, 13:43 GMT

    Sialkotians should have been given rest of at least one complete day. its strange they arrived the night before and played a match next morning. Harsh can cause injuries.

  • on October 8, 2012, 13:46 GMT

    Hmmmmm... great InshaAllah Sialkot Stallions will Win...........

  • on October 8, 2012, 13:48 GMT

    best of luck @sialkout stallions my all good wishes are wid u :)

  • on October 8, 2012, 13:52 GMT

    i got my fingers crossed for u guys

  • on October 8, 2012, 13:52 GMT

    As excited as I am at seeing Sialkot Stallions finally take their rightful place in the world's domestic T20 teams, I cannot help but notice that the players who have been bringing glory for SS at home have all aged over the last decade. Hopefully, for those staring retirement in the eye, this will be a swan song!

    All the best boys!

  • on October 8, 2012, 13:55 GMT

    Gd luCk StaliOns :)))) INSHALLAH SialkOt ll PerfOrm Well Under The Captaincy Of ShOaib Malik =]

  • on October 8, 2012, 13:56 GMT

    GOD BLESS YOU MY BOYS GO AND ROCK THE WORLD :)

  • on October 8, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    best of luck sialkot stallions, though its a big loss for them as their most experienced and talented bowler Abdur Rehman is out of squad due to ban. But still they can win it. BRING THE CUP HOME CHAMPS !