The Pakistan Super League has been a great platform for the youngsters to showcase their talent.
In the three years to date, many cricketers such as Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Rumman Raees to mention a few, have gone on to play for Pakistan after proving their worth in the tournament.
The PSL 2019 is now set to provide an opportunity for the next group of emerging to shine and use it a stepping stone in their dream of representing Pakistan at international level.
In this column, we take a look at some of the emerging players to watch out for over the next few weeks.
RIZWAN HUSSAIN (ISLAMABAD UNITED):
Cricket hero: Kumar Sangakkara
The 22-year-old Rizwan Hussain is a hard-hitting opening batsman from Lahore, who was picked by Islamabad United as one of the supplementary players from the emerging category in the players draft for Pakistan Super League 2019.
Rizwan originally belongs to Pir Mahal, a small city in the Toba Tek Singh district, but moved to Lahore in 2012 to pursue a career in cricket.
“I used to play cricket in school. My teachers suggested to my parents to send me to a bigger city to become a cricketer. That was when I started to take interest in cricket,” recalled Rizwan.
After having had successful seasons in Lahore’s club cricket, where he plays for P&T Gymkhana, and a few performances in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Rizwan caught the eyes of the United and was picked for PSL even before his T20 debut.
Rizwan made his first T20 appearance in the National T20 Cup 2018 in Multan and ended the tournament as second-highest run getter scoring 311 runs at an average of 51.83 and a strike-rate of 131.77.
“I will try my best to be the best batsman of the PSL 2019 and, at least, score one century. But my ultimate dream, like any other cricketer, is to play for Pakistan.”
UMER KHAN (KARACHI KINGS):
Cricket hero: Younis Khan and Rangana Herath
The 19-year-old left-arm spinner Umer Khan made a dream debut in first-class cricket this season when he took six wickets in Sui Southern Gas Corporation’s win over Peshawar in Karachi. Although he went unnoticed in the November 2018 PSL draft, Karachi Kings picked him in the replacement draft in January as 21st player.
Although Umer was born in Rawalpindi district and started cricket in Taxila, his ancestral place is Mohmand district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The left-arm finger spinner was part of the Pakistan Under-19 team that recently beat Bangladesh by one wicket in an Emerging Asia Cup match in Galle.
He is uncapped at T20 level but very keen to make a mark in the coming PSL.
“PSL is a great opportunity for young players like me. If given a chance in the tournament, my aim will be to win it for Karachi Kings. As a bowler, I want to give tough time to the best batsmen in the tournament,” said Umer.
HARIS RAUF (LAHORE QALANDARS):
Cricket hero: Dale Steyn
The 25-year-old fast bowler is one of the most talked-about emerging players ahead of the fourth PSL. Picked by Lahore Qalandars through their Players Development Programme, the right-arm fast bowler has the ability to go above 150kmph and is known for his yorkers as he showed in the Abu Dhabi T20 Trophy last October.
Haris has played only two T20s so far – for Qalandars against Titans and Hobart Hurricanes in Abu Dhabi, taking a wicket in each match. He bowled seven overs in a pair of T20 games conceding at only 6.71 per over.
The speedster hails from Rawalpindi and went to Gujranwala for trials conducted by the Qalandars in 2017.
“I was picked by Lahore Qalandars for PSL. The coach Aqib Javed has lent me lot of support. He took me to Australia and suggested me to observe cricket there,” said Haris.
“This year I also got a chance to bowl at world’s best batsmen, including Virat Kohli, before the New Year Test in Sydney. I gained lot of confidence by bowling at him. The whole experience has been a good learning curve for me.
“I am looking to do well in the coming PSL and my target in the tournament will be to bowl as fast as I can.”
SAUD SHAKEEL (QUETTA GLADIATORS):
Cricket hero: Kumar Sangakkara
The highly talented middle-order batsman Saud Shakeel is from Karachi where he started his cricket at the UBL Sports Academy. He is 23 years old and was part of the Pakistan team that played the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup final against South Africa in Dubai in 2014.
He was first picked by Quetta Gladiators for the PSL 2018, but didn’t get any games. He is one of those players who was retained by the Gladiators for the 2019 season, he is likely to make his PSL debut this year.
Saud is yet to show his true potential in T20 cricket, but has scored 1,987 runs in 50 overs cricket at an impressive average of 52.28 with the help of two centuries.
“My goal is to play for Pakistan in all three formats and I want to have a long international career,” said Saud.
“I also want to play a winning role for Quetta Gladiators in the coming PSL, which is a fantastic tournament for the youngsters. It is an opportunity for the players to prove their talent and cement a place in the national team.”
SAMIULLAH AFRIDI (PESHAWAR ZALMI):
Cricket hero: Mohammad Hafeez, Misbah-ul-Haq and Kevin Pietersen
The 22-year-old top-order batsman Samiullah Afridi got the attention of PSL franchises when he scored an unbeaten 104 for FATA against an SNGPL team that comprised eight Test cricketers in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy this season.
Samiullah natively belongs to Khyber Agency, but was born and raised in Peshawar where he started his cricket career in 2010 and played at both the under-16 and under-19 levels.
He was picked by Peshawar Zalmi as a supplementary player.
With 167 runs at 23.28, he was also the top run-getter for FATA in the National T20 Cup in Multan in 2018.
“I was selected for PSL through a Peshawar Zalmi’s player development program. I scored over 400 runs in their Azadi Cup tournament and was declared as the best batsman,” said Samiullah.
“I also scored most runs for FATA in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy this season. My aim is to take this form into the PSL.”
MOHAMMAD ILYAS (MULTAN SULTANS):
Cricket hero: James Anderson
The 19-year-old fast bowler is an uncapped T20 player, but his numbers in first-class cricket are eye-catching. Ilyas is a product of club cricket in Peshawar and made his first-class debut this season.
In the very first match of his career, Ilyas accounted for 10 wickets, helping Peshawar to register a win against Islamabad in a Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match. He took five wickets in each innings.
In five four-day games, he has picked 33 wickets at an average of 15.90 and taken three five-wicket hauls.
He was picked by Multan Sultans as an emerging player in the players draft for PSL 2019.
“I used to play cricket with my brothers. The people who used to watch me suggested to my eldest brother to get me admitted in a proper cricket academy because they thought I had the potential to play the game at higher levels,” said Ilyas.
“I want to be among the top-five bowlers in the PSL.”
“I am looking forward to the tournament and particularly excited at the prospect of playing with Shahid Afridi.”