Galle Gladiators will be very tough to beat, says team mentor Wasim Akram
Former Pakistan skipper and Galle Gladiators' mentor Wasim Akram is optimistic about his team's prospects in the inaugural Lanka Premier League (LPL) set to begin on November 21.
The LPL franchise shares the same owner as that of the 2019 Pakistan Super League (PSL) champions Quetta Gladiators.
With Galle having recruited an interesting blend of local players and overseas stars, Akram feels they might have the firepower to deliver them the title.
"We have some really good players in the Galle team, I don’t want to name names, but it is a good mix of youth and experience and I am sure we will give everyone a run for their money," he said in an exclusive interview.
"It is still early days to comment on whether we will make it to the final or not but one thing I can assure you, Galle Gladiators will be very tough to beat. I am really excited about our prospects."
Galle will be coached by Moin Khan, who has been in charge of the Quetta Gladiators outfit since their inception. Galle recently inducted legendary batsman Zaheer Abbas into their management as the franchise chairman, marking a high-profile set-up.
Galle Gladiators boasts the presence of flamboyant all-rounder Shahid Afridi, left-arm speedster Mohammad Amir, wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed and Proteas veteran Colin Ingram among the foreign players.
Additionally, the hard-hitting duo of Hazratullah Zazai and Azam Khan adds the dimension of fireworks whereas Lasith Malinga is the most reputed native player in the squad.
Having had the experience of coaching in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the PSL, Akram praised the proliferation of the T20 leagues around the globe.
"T20 leagues around the world have given exposure to many cricketers, both young and experienced. Thanks to T20 cricket, the game has become very fast now," he said.
"Batsmen are scoring runs at a quicker rate, bowlers have become innovative and the standard of fielding has gone up by many notches.
"When you are playing cricket with a variety of players, on different kinds of wickets and against different kinds of attack on a regular basis, your game is bound to show improvement, and we have seen that with all T20 Leagues in the world and in cricket as a whole."
Sri Lanka's return to competitive cricket following a long hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic will take place behind closed doors.
This underwhelming dynamic has been the common feature of the resumption of international cricket over the past three months.
Mindful of this frustrating aspect, Akram stated that players would still be motivated to perform in empty stadiums as they will be aware of thousands of fans supporting them in front of the television screens.
"Fans have always played a very important part in my sporting career and I am sure they will be missed. But most events that have happened during the pandemic have happened without spectators on the ground and the fans seem to have accepted this new normal," he claimed.
"If you remember, there was no Live action for a long time at the start of the pandemic, as a sports fan, that was the most frustrating part of the pandemic. Now with Live matches, albeit with spectators, at least they are able to watch live action on TV, online or OTT platforms."