Hafeez backs Lions to roar

Bangladesh Cricket Pakistan Sri LankaLahore Lions captain Mohammad Hafeez is confident that his men can shake off their underdogs tag and challenge for the Champions League Twenty20 title (Lahore 40/1 Outright Winner).

The Gaddafi Stadium outfit made it to the event as Pakistan’s domestic Twenty20 champions but first face a four-team, round-robin qualifying competition to reach the group stage.

They will be joined by New Zealand outfit Northern Districts, Sri Lankan team Southern Express and IPL giants Mumbai Indians, with the top two set to progress to the latter stage.

The Lions have now received their Indian visas after initial doubts over whether they would be able to take part in the tournament and are set to face Mumbai in their opening fixture on Saturday.

Hafeez aside, the Punjab side can boast plenty of other stellar names among the ranks, with international stars Umar Akmal, Ahmed Shehzad, Wahab Riaz and Nasir Jamshed all set to participate.

And, despite being the least-fancied of all the teams to do well, Hafeez is adamant that his men are not flying to India just to make up the numbers.

“We as a team have been playing some exciting cricket in last two years and the squad is well balanced with gutsy players from our domestic circuit, so we have the ability to match the best,” he said.

Should they qualify for the group stage, the Lions will be up against the likes of Perth Scorchers (14/1) and Hobart Hurricanes (12/1) from Australia, Indian trio Kolkata Knight Riders (4/1), Kings XI Punjab (4/1) and Chennai Super Kings (3/1), South African pair Dolphins (16/1) and Cape Cobras (10/1) and West Indian champions Barbados Tridents (20/1).

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