The reigning champions of Pakistan's premier First-Class and List-A competitions (Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and Quaid-e-Azam One-Day Cup) Habib Bank Limited (HBL) have scrapped their cricket team after 43 years but vowed to continue to invest in the game through Pakistan Super League, according to a statement released on Wednesday.
The bank has decided not to renew contracts with cricketers after they expired on March 31, effectively shutting down the cricket department.
While the bank has confirmed that the cricket team will stop existing, HBL will continue to invest in the game through Pakistan Super League. HBL is the title sponsor of Pakistan's premier T20 tournament since its inception and the current three-year deal starting 2019 season is reportedly worth approximately USD 12 million.
"HBL’s title sponsorship of the PSL, over the last four years, reflects our passion for the development of youth and the discovery of cricketing talent," an HBL release said. "The PSL has given an opportunity to countless young cricketers to display their talent at a national and international level."
A number of big names including Javed Miandad, Abdul Qadir, Mohsin Khan, Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul and others have represented the HBL. The last season team that won the First-Class and List-A tournaments featured Fakhar Zaman, Faheem Ashraf, Ahmad Shehzad, Umar Akmal and Imam-ul-Haq.
"With PSL, international cricket has returned to Pakistan. We are also delighted to see cricket facilities being uplifted in Pakistan and fans once again packing the stadiums to enjoy cricket," added the statement.
"To continue to invest in the PSL, and in the larger interest of Cricket in Pakistan, HBL will redeploy its valuable resources from other avenues. This reinvestment will be partially achieved by
"HBL remains indebted to the players of the HBL cricket team who over the years have served the cause of cricket in Pakistan so admirably. HBL will look after the interests of its cricket team members in line with its policies."