Ben Dunk remains committed to the cause as Lahore Qalandars finally take aim at PSL glory

Australian batsman has been one of the standout stars during the fifth edition of the tournament

When Ben Dunk left Australia at the start of February ahead of the Pakistan Super League, his concerns probably did not extend far past whether or not he had packed enough bubble gum for the trip.

He had been to Pakistan for the final phase of the competition a year earlier. As such, he was not exactly filled with much trepidation about a journey into the unknown.

Instead, he was eager to return to a country with a rare passion for the sport, and to get started in trying to turn around the fortunes of franchise cricket’s most underachieving team.

Less than two months on, the world seems like a very different place. And not because Lahore Qalandars are now a team to believe in.

Dunk himself has become one of the league’s ambassadors for the fight against the coronavirus.

In a social media post by his franchise now viewed over 100,000 times online, he urged people to follow health guidelines to combat the spread of the virus, and to “stay safe, and stay healthy”.

The competition itself has shaved off four days, and one match, from its original schedule in response to the crisis.

It has continued, albeit behind closed doors, and despite the fact a number of its overseas stars have opted to forego the final stages in order to return home to their families.

Dunk himself has stayed on to try to get the job done for his side, who face Karachi Kings in the second of two semi-finals scheduled for Tuesday.

But he says it was not an easy decision to make, given the direct health issues related to the virus, as well as the practicalities of increasing restricted international travel.

"There was a lot of discussion, and there still is," Dunk told The National. "I have a young family at home that I need to consider, but on the information I've been given, I decided to stay on.

“There’s no doubt I want to continue on and give Lahore Qalandars the best chance at winning the title.

“The team has been starved of success on the field in recent years, so hopefully I can play a part in turning that around.”

His big-hitting compatriot Chris Lynn did head home on Sunday night, after signing off with a 55-ball 113 not out against Multan Sultans in their last match of the league phase.

That was one of the few occasions in this tournament when a Qalandars batsman has been able to wrestle the limelight from Dunk.

He established himself as one of the stars of this season when he razed the same attack he will face in the semi-final - that of Karachi, which is coincidentally Dunk’s former team - in the league phase.

He did so to the tune of 99 not out in a 40-ball assault when the sides last met at the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore last week.

Whatever happens in Tuesday's semi-final, it will not receive anything like the rapturous reception that did.

Now the stands are empty, as a result of the precautions made to combat the spread of Covid-19, but Dunk is grateful to have experienced those crowds.

“I actually came over last year for the 10 days [at the end of the tournament] so I kind of knew what to expect,” Dunk said. “It’s an amazing country and the fans have been unbelievable. The noise in the stadiums has been awesome.

“The home game in Lahore have really been a highlight for me. We get big crowds at home [in Australia], but I’m not sure they make the same amount of noise as the fans do here.”

And those fans have been particularly taken by Dunk’s habit for absent-mindedly blowing bubbles while demolishing opposition bowling attacks.

“I don’t have a bubble gum sponsor, but I am available if anyone out there is interested,” Dunk joked. “I have no real favourite flavours – peppermint or spearmint – but I packed loads from him and have found some here as well.

“It has become part of my routine, and I use it to try and calm my nerves. At the moment it seems to be working so I’ll keep on doing it.”

The Florida Project

Director: Sean Baker

Starring: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe

Four stars

The Florida Project

Director: Sean Baker

Starring: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe

Four stars

The Florida Project

Director: Sean Baker

Starring: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe

Four stars

The Florida Project

Director: Sean Baker

Starring: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe

Four stars

The Florida Project

Director: Sean Baker

Starring: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe

Four stars

The Florida Project

Director: Sean Baker

Starring: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe

Four stars

The Florida Project

Director: Sean Baker

Starring: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe

Four stars

The Florida Project

Director: Sean Baker

Starring: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe

Four stars

The Florida Project

Director: Sean Baker

Starring: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe

Four stars

The Florida Project

Director: Sean Baker

Starring: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe

Four stars

The Florida Project

Director: Sean Baker

Starring: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe

Four stars

The Florida Project

Director: Sean Baker

Starring: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe

Four stars

The Florida Project

Director: Sean Baker

Starring: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe

Four stars

The Florida Project

Director: Sean Baker

Starring: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe

Four stars

The Florida Project

Director: Sean Baker

Starring: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe

Four stars

The Florida Project

Director: Sean Baker

Starring: Bria Vinaite, Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe

Four stars

UAE's final round of matches
  • Sep 1, 2016 Beat Japan 2-1 (away)
  • Sep 6, 2016 Lost to Australia 1-0 (home)
  • Oct 6, 2016 Beat Thailand 3-1 (home)
  • Oct 11, 2016 Lost to Saudi Arabia 3-0 (away)
  • Nov 15, 2016 Beat Iraq 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 23, 2017 Lost to Japan 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 28, 2017 Lost to Australia 2-0 (away)
  • June 13, 2017 Drew 1-1 with Thailand (away)
  • Aug 29, 2017 v Saudi Arabia (home)
  • Sep 5, 2017 v Iraq (away)
UAE's final round of matches
  • Sep 1, 2016 Beat Japan 2-1 (away)
  • Sep 6, 2016 Lost to Australia 1-0 (home)
  • Oct 6, 2016 Beat Thailand 3-1 (home)
  • Oct 11, 2016 Lost to Saudi Arabia 3-0 (away)
  • Nov 15, 2016 Beat Iraq 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 23, 2017 Lost to Japan 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 28, 2017 Lost to Australia 2-0 (away)
  • June 13, 2017 Drew 1-1 with Thailand (away)
  • Aug 29, 2017 v Saudi Arabia (home)
  • Sep 5, 2017 v Iraq (away)
UAE's final round of matches
  • Sep 1, 2016 Beat Japan 2-1 (away)
  • Sep 6, 2016 Lost to Australia 1-0 (home)
  • Oct 6, 2016 Beat Thailand 3-1 (home)
  • Oct 11, 2016 Lost to Saudi Arabia 3-0 (away)
  • Nov 15, 2016 Beat Iraq 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 23, 2017 Lost to Japan 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 28, 2017 Lost to Australia 2-0 (away)
  • June 13, 2017 Drew 1-1 with Thailand (away)
  • Aug 29, 2017 v Saudi Arabia (home)
  • Sep 5, 2017 v Iraq (away)
UAE's final round of matches
  • Sep 1, 2016 Beat Japan 2-1 (away)
  • Sep 6, 2016 Lost to Australia 1-0 (home)
  • Oct 6, 2016 Beat Thailand 3-1 (home)
  • Oct 11, 2016 Lost to Saudi Arabia 3-0 (away)
  • Nov 15, 2016 Beat Iraq 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 23, 2017 Lost to Japan 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 28, 2017 Lost to Australia 2-0 (away)
  • June 13, 2017 Drew 1-1 with Thailand (away)
  • Aug 29, 2017 v Saudi Arabia (home)
  • Sep 5, 2017 v Iraq (away)
UAE's final round of matches
  • Sep 1, 2016 Beat Japan 2-1 (away)
  • Sep 6, 2016 Lost to Australia 1-0 (home)
  • Oct 6, 2016 Beat Thailand 3-1 (home)
  • Oct 11, 2016 Lost to Saudi Arabia 3-0 (away)
  • Nov 15, 2016 Beat Iraq 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 23, 2017 Lost to Japan 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 28, 2017 Lost to Australia 2-0 (away)
  • June 13, 2017 Drew 1-1 with Thailand (away)
  • Aug 29, 2017 v Saudi Arabia (home)
  • Sep 5, 2017 v Iraq (away)
UAE's final round of matches
  • Sep 1, 2016 Beat Japan 2-1 (away)
  • Sep 6, 2016 Lost to Australia 1-0 (home)
  • Oct 6, 2016 Beat Thailand 3-1 (home)
  • Oct 11, 2016 Lost to Saudi Arabia 3-0 (away)
  • Nov 15, 2016 Beat Iraq 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 23, 2017 Lost to Japan 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 28, 2017 Lost to Australia 2-0 (away)
  • June 13, 2017 Drew 1-1 with Thailand (away)
  • Aug 29, 2017 v Saudi Arabia (home)
  • Sep 5, 2017 v Iraq (away)
UAE's final round of matches
  • Sep 1, 2016 Beat Japan 2-1 (away)
  • Sep 6, 2016 Lost to Australia 1-0 (home)
  • Oct 6, 2016 Beat Thailand 3-1 (home)
  • Oct 11, 2016 Lost to Saudi Arabia 3-0 (away)
  • Nov 15, 2016 Beat Iraq 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 23, 2017 Lost to Japan 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 28, 2017 Lost to Australia 2-0 (away)
  • June 13, 2017 Drew 1-1 with Thailand (away)
  • Aug 29, 2017 v Saudi Arabia (home)
  • Sep 5, 2017 v Iraq (away)
UAE's final round of matches
  • Sep 1, 2016 Beat Japan 2-1 (away)
  • Sep 6, 2016 Lost to Australia 1-0 (home)
  • Oct 6, 2016 Beat Thailand 3-1 (home)
  • Oct 11, 2016 Lost to Saudi Arabia 3-0 (away)
  • Nov 15, 2016 Beat Iraq 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 23, 2017 Lost to Japan 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 28, 2017 Lost to Australia 2-0 (away)
  • June 13, 2017 Drew 1-1 with Thailand (away)
  • Aug 29, 2017 v Saudi Arabia (home)
  • Sep 5, 2017 v Iraq (away)
UAE's final round of matches
  • Sep 1, 2016 Beat Japan 2-1 (away)
  • Sep 6, 2016 Lost to Australia 1-0 (home)
  • Oct 6, 2016 Beat Thailand 3-1 (home)
  • Oct 11, 2016 Lost to Saudi Arabia 3-0 (away)
  • Nov 15, 2016 Beat Iraq 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 23, 2017 Lost to Japan 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 28, 2017 Lost to Australia 2-0 (away)
  • June 13, 2017 Drew 1-1 with Thailand (away)
  • Aug 29, 2017 v Saudi Arabia (home)
  • Sep 5, 2017 v Iraq (away)
UAE's final round of matches
  • Sep 1, 2016 Beat Japan 2-1 (away)
  • Sep 6, 2016 Lost to Australia 1-0 (home)
  • Oct 6, 2016 Beat Thailand 3-1 (home)
  • Oct 11, 2016 Lost to Saudi Arabia 3-0 (away)
  • Nov 15, 2016 Beat Iraq 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 23, 2017 Lost to Japan 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 28, 2017 Lost to Australia 2-0 (away)
  • June 13, 2017 Drew 1-1 with Thailand (away)
  • Aug 29, 2017 v Saudi Arabia (home)
  • Sep 5, 2017 v Iraq (away)
UAE's final round of matches
  • Sep 1, 2016 Beat Japan 2-1 (away)
  • Sep 6, 2016 Lost to Australia 1-0 (home)
  • Oct 6, 2016 Beat Thailand 3-1 (home)
  • Oct 11, 2016 Lost to Saudi Arabia 3-0 (away)
  • Nov 15, 2016 Beat Iraq 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 23, 2017 Lost to Japan 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 28, 2017 Lost to Australia 2-0 (away)
  • June 13, 2017 Drew 1-1 with Thailand (away)
  • Aug 29, 2017 v Saudi Arabia (home)
  • Sep 5, 2017 v Iraq (away)
UAE's final round of matches
  • Sep 1, 2016 Beat Japan 2-1 (away)
  • Sep 6, 2016 Lost to Australia 1-0 (home)
  • Oct 6, 2016 Beat Thailand 3-1 (home)
  • Oct 11, 2016 Lost to Saudi Arabia 3-0 (away)
  • Nov 15, 2016 Beat Iraq 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 23, 2017 Lost to Japan 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 28, 2017 Lost to Australia 2-0 (away)
  • June 13, 2017 Drew 1-1 with Thailand (away)
  • Aug 29, 2017 v Saudi Arabia (home)
  • Sep 5, 2017 v Iraq (away)
UAE's final round of matches
  • Sep 1, 2016 Beat Japan 2-1 (away)
  • Sep 6, 2016 Lost to Australia 1-0 (home)
  • Oct 6, 2016 Beat Thailand 3-1 (home)
  • Oct 11, 2016 Lost to Saudi Arabia 3-0 (away)
  • Nov 15, 2016 Beat Iraq 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 23, 2017 Lost to Japan 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 28, 2017 Lost to Australia 2-0 (away)
  • June 13, 2017 Drew 1-1 with Thailand (away)
  • Aug 29, 2017 v Saudi Arabia (home)
  • Sep 5, 2017 v Iraq (away)
UAE's final round of matches
  • Sep 1, 2016 Beat Japan 2-1 (away)
  • Sep 6, 2016 Lost to Australia 1-0 (home)
  • Oct 6, 2016 Beat Thailand 3-1 (home)
  • Oct 11, 2016 Lost to Saudi Arabia 3-0 (away)
  • Nov 15, 2016 Beat Iraq 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 23, 2017 Lost to Japan 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 28, 2017 Lost to Australia 2-0 (away)
  • June 13, 2017 Drew 1-1 with Thailand (away)
  • Aug 29, 2017 v Saudi Arabia (home)
  • Sep 5, 2017 v Iraq (away)
UAE's final round of matches
  • Sep 1, 2016 Beat Japan 2-1 (away)
  • Sep 6, 2016 Lost to Australia 1-0 (home)
  • Oct 6, 2016 Beat Thailand 3-1 (home)
  • Oct 11, 2016 Lost to Saudi Arabia 3-0 (away)
  • Nov 15, 2016 Beat Iraq 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 23, 2017 Lost to Japan 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 28, 2017 Lost to Australia 2-0 (away)
  • June 13, 2017 Drew 1-1 with Thailand (away)
  • Aug 29, 2017 v Saudi Arabia (home)
  • Sep 5, 2017 v Iraq (away)
UAE's final round of matches
  • Sep 1, 2016 Beat Japan 2-1 (away)
  • Sep 6, 2016 Lost to Australia 1-0 (home)
  • Oct 6, 2016 Beat Thailand 3-1 (home)
  • Oct 11, 2016 Lost to Saudi Arabia 3-0 (away)
  • Nov 15, 2016 Beat Iraq 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 23, 2017 Lost to Japan 2-0 (home)
  • Mar 28, 2017 Lost to Australia 2-0 (away)
  • June 13, 2017 Drew 1-1 with Thailand (away)
  • Aug 29, 2017 v Saudi Arabia (home)
  • Sep 5, 2017 v Iraq (away)
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