The latest Talent Spotter entry on PakPassion speaks with highly rated leg spinner Shahzaib Ahmed who was recently awarded the best bowler of the tournament award after he topped the bowling charts in the Patrons Trophy Grade II tournament.
By Farid Khan (16th Arpil, 2015)
Full name : Shahzaib Ahmed Khan
Born : September 8, 1991, Karachi, Sind
Current age : 23 years
Major teams : Karachi Blues, Karachi Dolphins, Karachi Electric Supply Company, Karachi Whites, Karachi Zebras, Karachi Zone IV Under-19s, Pakistan Under-19s, Port Qasim Authority, Quetta Bears
Batting style : Right-hand bat
Bowling style : Legbreak
Getting Into Cricket
My father used to play cricket and he was the reason why I started playing cricket at the age of 14. I started from academy cricket and progressed from there. My father really wanted me to become a professional cricketer and thankfully I have fulfilled his dream.
Imran Khan is my role model. I have seen a lot of videos of him and I was inspired by his attitude, the positivity and his fighting spirit. Other than that, Shahid Afridi is the one I am greatly inspired by. He is a leg spinner and a superstar of our country. I follow him and I aim to be his replacement in future.
Selection for Pakistan U19s
I was selected for the Pakistan U19s on the basis of my performance at the Karachi district level. I was the top wicket-taker and got 30 wickets in 6 matches. It was a national record and that performance of mine caught the eyes of the selectors and I was then named in the Pakistan U19s squad.
Performance at the U19 level
Alhamdulillah, last season I got 75 wickets in the regional U19 cricket circuit. For the Pakistan U19s, I have bowled at an average of 19 and have taken three 5-wicket hauls and two 4-wicket hauls.
Selection for Karachi Dolphins
I played senior district cricket in Karachi and was the second highest wicket taker. That's how I was selected for the Karachi Dolphins. Mashallah, last season I was the top spinner in the golden league, but unfortunately got injured during the season. I made a comeback and took a lot of wickets, so it was a very positive experience for me.
Performance for K-Electric
I topped the charts in the recently concluded Grade II Patrons Trophy and was declared the best bowler of the tournament. I enjoyed the standard of cricket there. There was very little difference in standard as compared to first-class cricket. Many first-class cricketers, who represent regions, were taking part in that tournament.
Experience at Port Qasim
I was selected for Port Qasim due to my performance in regional cricket. There is a lot of difference between regional cricket and departmental cricket. The competition in departmental cricket is quite tough. There are players waiting as backup and if you fail to perform, they take your place in the side. I have enjoyed my time at Port Qasim. Rashid Latif is a great coach and he is very supportive towards younger players. He points out mistakes in players individually and that gives you a lot to learn.
Views on lack of cricket in Pakistan
Unfortunately, there is very less cricket being played in Pakistan right now. Moreover, the crowd doesn't show up for matches, which doesn't help our players once they represent Pakistan internationally as the number of people there are huge and there is added pressure. When people are watching you, you are encouraged to do well and when matches are being telecast, players tend to do well to catch the eyes of people and make a name for themselves.
Focus on fitness and training
Yes, I pay special heed towards physical training off season. I don't take part in any foreign leagues and my only focus in on keeping myself fit and healthy. I stick to my routine, whether it's during the season or off season. Imran is my trainer here in Karachi and I do a lot of workouts with him throughout the season.
I have been selected for the Pakistan 'A' team and my aim is to do well in the upcoming season, so I can get selected for the national team. The upcoming series against Sri Lanka will be very important and provided, I am among the top performers, there is a very good chance of my selection for Pakistan. As far as goals are concerned, every player has goals. I aimed to take 50 wickets last season, but unfortunately got injured and fell short of that target. Alhamdullilah though I made up a bit for that after I was the top wicket taker at the Grade II level.
Potential Pakistan call-up
I am expecting to make it to the national team this year and I am fully focused on achieving this aim. As I mentioned before, the upcoming 'A' series against Sri Lanka is very important and my selection depends on that. As soon as I get a chance, hopefully I will make the most of it. I am mentally and physically fit and I am sure I will perform if I am given a chance anytime soon.