Exclusive Interview: Mohammad Zahid
On behalf of the PP team we'd like to thank Kami's younger brother Adnan Akmal for helping us get in touch with Mohammad Zahid and for making this interview a possibility!! Thanks Adnan Bhai.
Also Salman deserves a lot of credit for conducting the interview and liaising with the ever elusive Mohammad Zahid. Salman got most of the questions answered before he got cut off and unfortunately since then we've been unable to get hold of Zahid to get the rest of the questions answered. We thought it was best to publish what we have, rather than continue holding the interview indefinitely.
A big thanks to Mohammad Zahid for agreeing to this interview and helping us to gain some personal insight into his career...
PakPassion.Net: How did you get into cricket and where did it all start?
Mohammad Zahid: Close to where I live in Pakistan there's a small village called Gaggu Mandi, I began playing cricket there and quickly came to the attention of a fast bowler who played for Pakistan Customs and Multan region called Nadeem Iqbal. He became my mentor and I benefitted greatly from his tutelage.
PakPassion.Net: Tell us a bit more about Nadeem Iqbal
Mohammad Zahid: He was a very pacy fast bowler who used to open the bowling for Multan region with Waqar Younis. He used to bowl faster than Waqar.
PakPassion.Net: Faster than Waqar?
Mohammad Zahid: Yes Nadeem was very fast, he played a match for Pakistan Customs against National Bank of Pakistan where he bowled them out for 20 runs which is a first class record!!
PakPassion.Net: We all know how difficult it is to be 'discovered' in Pakistan, what's your selection story? Was it through hard work at domestic level or were you spotted by someone? If so then who?
Mohammad Zahid: I began playing my cricket in Gaggu Mandi and from there I moved onto Saiwaal where my bowling caught the eye of Miah Basharat who was the President of Multan Region. That was how I got selected to play in the Pakistan u19 team vs New Zealand and West Indies in 1995. By the grace of God I performed well and my performances justified Miah Basharat's backing of me.
PakPassion.Net: How did you get into the Pakistan team?
Mohammad Zahid: Actually I had absolutely no idea that I'd been selected to play for the national team until it happened. As President of the Multan region Miah Basharat used to back all the senior Multan players like Waqar Younis, Mushtaq Ahmed and Inzamam ul Haq with the PCB. And he was the one who mentioned to Wasim Akram that he had a very good player that Wasim should take a look at. I was tried out in a side game and I took a lot of wickets, that's how I got my chance to play for Pakistan.
PakPassion.Net: So Wasim Akram was impressed with your bowling?
Mohammad Zahid: Yes, he even recommended I join the PIA team at domestic level.
PakPassion.Net: What’s your favourite and your worst memory from your time as a Pakistan International?
Mohammad Zahid: Luckily I was bowling really fast and in good form at the time, so my performances with the ball quickly gained me respect and recognition at the International stage and I really enjoyed myself. Every match I played was a good memory for me at International level.
PakPassion.Net: What are the best compliments you've ever received about your bowling?
Mohammad Zahid: Lara once paid me a great compliment, Wasim said i was very good and Waqar supported me a lot (we both have Vehari connections). I guess the biggest compliment was that I was taken seriously as regular first team bowler when Waqar and Wasim were in their pomp. During those days no bowlers were given much consideration due to the abilities of Waqar and Wasim, being taken seriously at that time was the best compliment I could have received.
PakPassion.Net: How would you compare yourself to Shoaib Akhtar as a bowler and who was faster?
Mohammad Zahid: I felt that I was noticeably faster than Shoaib, we both had pace but I think I was faster. We were very different types of bowlers, Shoaib had a lot of pace but he didnt really the swing the ball like I did. I used to swing the ball at pace and I felt that made me a more dangerous bowler than Shoaib.
PakPassion.Net: Did you get support from the PCB when you got injured?
Mohammad Zahid: I was very unfortunate because the PCB didnt back me after I got injured, I was very much on my own. Shoaib has been lucky because the PCB has supported him through all his injuries.
PakPassion.Net: What was the fastest delivery that you think you bowled?
Mohammad Zahid: I would have to say it was a yorker that I bowled to Brain Lara but there were no speed guns in those days, so it's hard to be sure.
PakPassion.Net: When you were in the squad (before your major back injury), did your team mates value your pace and how did Wasim and Waqar feel about having you amongst them?
Mohammad Zahid: I think perhaps I worried them a bit because I looked quicker and more dangerous than them when we practised and after practise the batsmen used to be full of praise for my bowling. But they were both quite supportive of me as well as I mentioned earlier.
PakPassion.Net: In your debut test match when you took 11 wickets, did you know that many fans believe that the yorker you bowled to Lee Germon was over 100mph and faster than anything Shoaib Akhtar has ever bowled? Would you agree?
Mohammad Zahid: Yes I definitely felt it was over 100mph but as you know in those days there were no speed guns around to confirm the speed which is a real shame.
PakPassion.Net: In Jan 1997 Waqar gave an interview where he said that "your bowling action is way too demanding and Waqar feared that it will be hard for u to stay fit with that action.” Were you aware of this and was it pointed out to you by anybody?
Mohammad Zahid: No, I wasnt aware of that. In those days I used to put my whole body into every delivery and as a result the ball used to leave my hand like a speeding bullet which felt really good but after the games I used to really feel the strain my body was going through. I was advised that my action could be dangerous but was told that changing it may end up creating more problems for me than keeping it would cause. In fact it was Waqar who advised me to strengthen my back muscles and to build my overall strength in order to reduce the strain on my body and prevent any serious injuries from occurring.
PakPassion.Net: What was it like being part of the C&U Series in 1997 and a Pakistan team that beat both Australia and the Windies in Australia?
Mohammad Zahid: I had never even dreamed of being part of success like that, I was very proud that my bowling had contributed to such a huge win for Pakistan against the two strongest teams in the world.
PakPassion.Net: What did it feel like bowling to a batsman of Lara's calibre?
Mohammad Zahid: I've always relished the challenge of really testing myself, that's why I've always wanted to bowl to batsmen like Lara, Ponting and Tendulkar. I used to plan in my head how I would try and shatter their stumps on the first ball I bowled to them and that's how I motivated myself for the challenge of facing such great players.
PakPassion.Net: Can you give us a ball by ball description of the over where you dismissed Brian Lara, how fast do you think you were bowling?
Mohammad Zahid: When I bowled to Lara, he didnt look comfortable with the pace I was generating and I could see that I was really troubling him. I beat him with a few balls and this inspired me to try even harder and I ended up taking his wicket in that over. It was a really great feeling and Lara praised me to the media after the match.
PakPassion.Net: Do you know that after that match Lara said you were the fastest bowler he’s ever faced, how does that make you feel?
Mohammad Zahid: I remember after taking his wicket Lara said that I was the fastest bowler he'd ever faced and one of the most dangerous bowlers in the world, coming from a batsman like Brian Lara I took it as a great compliment.
PakPassion.Net: What are you doing with yourself these days?
Mohammad Zahid: I'm practising hard. I'm currently at an academy in Gaggu Mandi run by Nadeem Iqbal and I'm trying to get back into shape. I'm going to look for a position with a domestic team but I'm not sure which one yet.
Last edited by Mercenary; 12th November 2007 at 19:39.