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Qatar tribune

Vinay Nayudu


Wasim Akram, an Apex Council member of the Legends League Cricket (LLC) Masters, arrived at the Asian Town International Stadium on Thursday with South African stars Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis of the World Giants going great guns against the Asia Lions in the final qualifying-league clash, and the former Pakistan captain was mightily pleased with the show.

Waving to fans from the VIP box and with his graceful smile in place, Akram seemed to have taken an instant liking for the new destination of the LLC Masters.

Later speaking about LLC Masters, Akram said, “It’s great to be here and as you can see all these legends playing are looking much fitter than they were in the inaugural edition of the league in Muscat last year because they know that this tournament is a regular fixture now – twice a year in associate ICC (International Cricket Council) countries and in India. The idea is to promote cricket, and when fans like now at the stadium here in Doha are there, people get motivated to play the sport.”

On the idea of introducing ‘Impact Player’ in the tournament where a team can nominate a player from outside the playing XI to replace someone during the innings, Akram, who has played over a 100 Test matches and claimed over 400 Test and 500 ODI wickets, said, “This is the beauty of the game now. Things are changing. Like in England they started ‘The Hundred’ which was a bit complicated for me to start with but it took off greatly, so now you have this new impact player concept. I hope people will like it as it enhances the thrill of the game.”

He went on to add, “This edition in Qatar now is trending worldwide. I had been watching in Pakistan before arriving here today, it has been trending on social media the past few days which shows that everyone is watching and that these players still have the passion. The league is becoming more competitive. Last year we had to convince many players to play, but now they are coming in for the league in large numbers.”

 Indeed, the league looks set to grow. LLC Masters also has Ravi Shastri (former India captain, coach and now back as commentator) as its commissioner who will also be in Doha ahead of the final.

Former captain of the Indian Women’s cricket team, Jhulan Goswami, is the Women’s Empowerment Ambassador for the league and Bollywood legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan is the Brand Ambassador.

Shoaib Akhtar sees

a bright future

Pakistan’s former pace bowler Shoaib Akhtar, playing for the Asia Lions, is also delighted with the tournament.

“The LLC is a wonderful tournament. The tournament has become larger than life. The league going forward with the recently-retired players who might join the league in coming seasons, it will only grow.”

“I would like to thank Vivek and Raman Raheja (The CEO of the league) for a fantastic job in putting this mega tournament together. It’s great fun to play against these guys. The platform is providing me an opportunity to meet my old friends. It’s a burst of memories when we all are playing together,” he said.

Akhtar managed to play only a game out of three for the Lions so far. He got injured while playing in his only game. “Unfortunately, I injured myself while diving yesterday and twisted my knee. If I was not injured, I would have definitely bowled my four overs and tried to add value to the team.”

Taking wickets at this age is special: Brett Lee

Former Australia speedster, who has excelled with his rare ability to bowl fast along with reverse swing, has been a star with his performances for the World Giants.

“Any wicket that you get at an age of 46 is always special. I have worked pretty hard leading into this mega tournament.  I have done some training and bowling in the nets. I am ready to go and I am excited about it,” said Lee after a three-wicket haul in one of the games.

“We all are here to have fun and showcase the great game of cricket to our fans around the world. I would like to thank everyone who has brought this league together. I never thought something like this would be possible. It’s great fun,” he added.

Can’t thank LLC Masters enough: Shane Watson

Star former all-rounder with Australia, and at the Indian Premier League (IPL), Shane Watson said can’t thank enough to be playing in LLC Masters.

“I feel very lucky to be playing cricket at my age, and I feel very privileged to be playing alongside some of the greatest players to have played cricket in the last 20 years or so. Further, it is a great experience to be reunited with Jacques Kallis, who is my favourite cricketer of all time. I was fortunate enough to have played with him for the Sydney Thunders in 2016, and to be able to play with him again I feel very lucky. He is my hero.

“To be able to play with Paul Collingwood for the first time, with Hashim Amla and my great friend Brett Lee as starting points, Chris Gayle, and the list goes on and on. Also, for Aaron Finch, being able to bat with him again in the first match was something very special. I can’t thank LLC enough for this incredible opportunity. I never thought something like this would be possible. It’s great fun,” he said.

Harbhajan Singh mixing cricket and fun in fine style

India’s legendary off-spin bowler Harbhajan Singh, meanwhile has been excelling both with his bowling and interactions with the fans at the LLC Masters.

‘Bhajji’, as he is lovingly called, took four wickets against the World Giants on March 11, including three in an over narrowly missing out on a hat-trick, Incidentally, it was a day when he claimed the famous hat-trick on March 11 in 2011 at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata where India turned the tables on Australia following-on.

Two days later, Harbhajan broke into a dance ‘Naato Naato’ during the presentation ceremony appreciating India’s excellence at the Oscar awards as the spectators cheered.

Thrilling end awaits

And now, as the LLC Masters in Qatar moves into the business end of the tournament – the Eliminator will be played on Saturday (from 5.30pm) and the final on Monday (March 20th) – the excitement is surely guaranteed.

If you happen to be in

Qatar and haven’t been there as yet, you better head out for the Asian Town International Stadium!

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