SYED YAHYA HUSSAINI Senior Sports Journalist
  • 13 Apr - 19 Apr, 2024
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Sports

In the world of cricket, when we talk about brotherly pairs, this tradition continues in every era. When the duo of Muhammad Brothers became famous in Pakistan, today Shah Brothers are gaining particular popularity. In this scenario, if a list is compiled, the pairs of many brothers will be seen at national and international levels. In the context of the Pakistan Super League, "Lahore Qalandars," known as the most dynamic franchise, has quickly captured attention alongside the Rana Brothers, owing to their innovative strategies and fresh perspectives in cricket.

If we talk about the Chief Executive Officer of "Lahore Qalandars," Atif Rana, and the Chief Operating Officer Sameen Rana, writing about them in a manner that equates them would never be incorrect. Like deep-rooted and very close friends, these two Rana brothers exhibit separate personalities. Atif Rana is seen smiling amidst people's hustle and bustle, while Sameen Rana remains calm and confident in working all the time. These two important figures of the management of "Lahore Qalandars" have journeyed from business to cricket franchises. The narrative detailing the transition of Atif Rana and Sameen Rana, pivotal figures within the management of "Lahore Qalandars," from the realm of business to cricket franchises, presents an intriguing tale.

Sameen Rana says that in 2014, when their mother Kausar Rana passed away, it felt like there was nothing left in the world for them. They endured so much pain that they decided not to return to Pakistan. However, it's important to mention that Atif Rana, whom Sameen regards as his brother and best friend, obtained a master's degree in Public Administration from Punjab University. While Sameen Rana obtained a Chartered Accountant degree from Pakistan and Canada.

This occurred in 2015 when Sameen was residing in Canada, while Atif was trying his luck in America. However, Atif soon realized that while he could secure a good job in America, it wouldn't be in line with his temperament. Therefore, Sameen advised him to start a business in Pakistan. Sameen recalls that Atif called him one day and said, "Brother, Pakistan Cricket Board is starting the PSL (Pakistan Super League) and I'm thinking of buying a team. It will be a profitable business venture, and your passion for cricket will also be fulfilled." Sameen told Atif, "Hey brother, everything you're saying is correct, but it's not as easy as you think. It requires a big team for that." To which Atif replied, "Brother, whatever you say, I'm getting a team," and Atif Rana secured ownership rights of "Lahore Qalandars" by placing the highest bid. Sameen Rana had no other option left. He resigned from his job, sent his family back to America, and boarded the flight to Lahore.

The story behind the name "Lahore Qalandars", is also quite fascinating. Initially, the name "Lahore Lions" was chosen, with the idea that a popular and renowned team was playing in Pakistan domestic cricket under that name. However, Atif Rana recommended the name "Lahore Qalandars" and advised, "Take a moment to ponder over it." He also sent an email to Sameen Rana. Meanwhile, Sameen Rana pondered on how to rekindle the connection that had been lost following their mother's passing. Sameen says that when they started reading about "Qalandars," they thought, "Lahore Qalandars" would be a better name. "Qalandars" is a spiritual name, it's a quality. "Qalandars" symbolizes a spiritual journey. However, after deciding on the name "Lahore Qalandars," Sameen Rana had to face severe criticism. But the Rana brothers had made up their minds, and then everyone saw, this franchise raised the banners of popularity high. There were several factors behind appointing Azhar Ali as the captain for the first season in 2016. Firstly, he was the captain of the Pakistan One Day International team. Then Test cricketer Aaqib Javed, who was also a very close associate of Atif Rana, recommended him as well. Sameen Rana says that initially they had thought of former Test all-rounder and Captain Shoaib Malik as the first captain of "Lahore Qalandars." They had even discussed it, but he was picked by Karachi Kings in the draft. Sameen Rana further adds that legendary fast bowler Wasim Akram has always been their favorite cricketer, but they avoided making him a part of "Lahore Qalandars" because Sameen Rana and Atif Rana were both in complete agreement on one thing: they didn't want to rely on any name for the franchise's brand. They wanted to make "Lahore Qalandars" a famous and renowned brand, which they achieved.

Atif Rana says, that he wasn't very knowledgeable about cricket, but through working with cricket and cricketers in this franchise business, he learned a lot. He spent the best times with Mudassar Nazar, Ejaz Ahmed, and then with Aaqib Javed. Atif Rana believes that with the final of the Pakistan Super League, the work of franchises usually comes to a halt, but "Lahore Qalandars" starts its work from there. The Player Development Program and the "Qalandars High Performance Center" are excellent examples of this. He believes that in life, you work on new ideas, move forward, and prove yourself to be exceptional than others, and this was the philosophy of "Lahore Qalandars," and it will remain so.