Born in Mardan, where the standard of batsmanship will always be measured by arguably Pakistan’s greatest Test batsman Younis Khan, Fakhar Zaman has been on Pakistan’s thankless domestic circuit for over five years with almost no attention. A left-handed opener with an unusually high backlift, Zaman relies on timing for his runs, which he’s made plenty of. This is illustrated by his domestic average (42 in first class cricket and 49 in List A). But it wasn’t until the Quaid-e-Azam trophy in 2016-17 that his form began to be noticed. Zaman scored 663 runs in the competition at an average of 51, including 170 in the second innings of the final, a game dominated by the twin centuries of former Pakistan captain Salman Butt.
However, his prolific form earned him a contract in the PSL with the Lahore Qalandars. He showed flashes of the class he’d been displaying domestically, particularly during a 33-ball 56 against Karachi where he destroyed the opposition bowling and looked extremely elegant while doing so. It earned him a call-up to Pakistan’s T20I side for the West Indies tour, and he made his debut in the second match in Port of Spain.
His first three T20Is only brought him 26 runs, and much of the world was still unaware of his talent when he made his ODI debut a couple of months later, in England, during the 2017 Champions Trophy. Having missed the opening-match defeat to India, Zaman turned Pakistan’s batting fortunes around with scores of 31, 50, 57 and 114 in his first four ODI innings, his strike rate of 113.00 giving a dated 50-overs line-up much-needed oomph at the top of the order. The maiden hundred went on to win him the Player-of-the-Match award in the final, setting up a total of 338 that proved a long way beyond India’s reach.