The endless chain of fast bowlers that Pakistan has produced over the years has been the envy point of other cricketing nations. Zaman Khan is the latest to join that illustrious line. But there is a slight difference to Zaman. Perhaps, he is the first slinger fast bowler a la Lasith Malinga to play for Pakistan in international cricket. Zaman was drafted into Pakistan’s Asia Cup squad on Wednesday after Naseem Shah was ruled out due to a shoulder injury.
Now, the cricketing world might be engaged in a frantic Google search to know more about Zaman, but the 21-year-old had to waddle through layers of difficulties to even start playing cricket.
The ever-endearing rags to riches story, if you may.
As it happens with many other Pakistan pacers, Zaman too cut his teeth in tape ball cricket in Mirpur, a small village in PoK.
Coming from a family of daily wage workers, Zaman was drawn to cricket from a very young age and found backing from his household to pursue his dream.
“My father and brothers are labourers. I started playing cricket after watching other boys in my street playing that sport. I used to skip classes at Madrasa to play cricket. One of my relatives told me to take part in an under-16 trial in my village after seeing how fast I was bowling. Fortunately, I got selected and my journey started,” Zaman said in a video posted by PCB.
Zaman took the next step when he was picked in the Pakistan under-19 team to tour Australia, an experience he termed as an eye-opener.
The pacer’s first big stage experience came when he was picked by Lahore Qalandars for Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2022.
It was cathartic for him to rub shoulders with top stars of his country such as Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf.
Zaman made a mighty impression in his first PSL season, taking 18 wickets from 13 matches to finish third on the wicket-takers’ chart behind Afridi (20) and leg-spinner Shadab Khan (19).
His effort had played a big role in Lahore winning their maiden PSL title that year.
“When we saw him in the Kashmir T20 league, we wanted to draft him into the side. He was quick and had wonderful yorker, and we thought that he could be a good fit into our team,” said Waqas Ahmed, the bowling coach of Qalandars.
His observation was not far from truth as Zaman made his presence felt in PSL 2023 as well, grabbing 15 wickets from 13 matches.
It helped the Qalandars to retain their title, the first team in the PSL to do so.
“He was a bit raw when he came to us. He has that roundarm action. He was quick alright but he tended to stray the ball down the leg side or way outside the off-stump.
“We worked on the accuracy factor at nets and he is a hardworking boy and a quick learner,” said Ahmed.
“Since he has this ability to bowl fast full-length deliveries, we always wanted to use him at the death,” Ahmed added.
Zaman’s skill was visible when he defended 12 runs in the last over of the PSL 2023 final against Multan Sultans on March 18.
Six days later Zaman made his Pakistan debut in a T20I against Afghanistan at Sharjah.
When Pakistan needed a replacement for Naseem, team director Mickey Arthur, a man who has a keen eye for talent, immediately wanted Zaman in the squad.
Zaman was handed his ODI debut too against Sri Lanka here.
But more than that, it will be a golden opportunity for him to learn the nuances of his craft from an accomplished performer like Morne Morkel, Pakistan’s bowling coach.
“I am super excited to work with a talent like Zaman. I followed him a little bit on TV during the PSL, but it is important for him to find his feet in a big game (against Sri Lanka), a must win for us.
“He is a fine talent. I want to connect with himl, build that relationship, and develop him because he is a match winner,” said Morkel.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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