India is not playing Pakistan in a bilateral series anytime soon. Neither is the Pakistan cricket team the most popular outfit among Indian supporters. So why, you ask, should I know about this Fakhar Zaman, whose name I’d rather make puns on?
For starters, he just became the first Pakistani batsman to score an ODI double century (fifth highest ODI score ever, 210*) recently. The critics would argue that it was against Zimbabwe, but even Virender Sehwag’s was also against a depleted West Indies on a flat Indore wicket. An double century is a double century. Period.
Secondly, in case you missed it, he became the fastest to 1,000 ODI runs in the very next match. His tally of 18 innings was better than five others who could do their best with 21. It took Virat Kohli 24, just FYI.
We assume to have piqued enough interest if you’ve managed to reach till here. A short background check on Zaman would thus be fitting. The Mardan-born man comes from the same town as Pak’s legendary cricketer Younis Khan.
After quitting his career as a navy officer, Zaman scored tirelessly for half a decade in the domestic circuit. The left-hander amassed hundreds of runs, averaging 42 in first class cricket and 49 in List A games.
His first big break came after his prolific form in the Quaid-e-Azam trophy in 2016-17 . His 663 runs were made at an average of 51 in the tournament, including a 170 in the final. What followed was a PSL contract with Lahore and an eventual call-up for the national T20I side.
He soon broke into the ODI squad by the second half of 2017 and a match-winning maiden hundred against India in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy last year put him in global spotlight.
Pakistan cricket has had a tough time looking for heroes after their golden generation gave way to severe corruption and other scandals. The latest in that list was another top-order leftie Sharjeel Khan.
The Men in Green are fortunate to have found Zaman almost immediately to fill that void; and along with Babar Azam, the batting department looks to have found at least a couple of reliable pillars.
The Asia Cup is around the corner and it’s not even 12 months to the World Cup in England. Both of these tournaments are sure to have showdowns between Pak and their famed rivals India.
Virat Kohli & Co will be wary of the Pak uncertainty in both these occasions. And especially now that the team from across the border seem to have found some method to their madness.