A profile of an exciting young spinner, who has impressed everyone with some very impressive performances for Sindh 2nd XI this year.
By Amir Husain (7th November, 2020)
Full name: Abrar Ahmed
Born: 11 September, 1998, Karachi
Major teams: Karachi Region Whites, Sindh, Karachi Kings
Batting style: Right-handed
Bowling style: Right-arm leg-spin
Height : 6 ft
Interest in Cricket
I am the youngest in my family and have four elder brothers. When I was very young, we would play tape-ball cricket on the street close to home. One of my brothers was a finger-spinner and would get people out all the time which fuelled my interest in spin bowling. My father was very much against my playing cricket as he wasn’t sure if cricket would earn me a good living but later on, seeing my passion and after being pleaded to by my brothers, he decided to let me have my way and play cricket.
Honoured to be a Hafiz-e-Quran but I need to work on my English
My regular education suffered due to my passion for cricket, but I am proud and honoured to be a Hafiz-e-Quran. Whilst it will be difficult to try and study more, there is one huge gap in my education which is the fact that my English is very weak and that is one skill I will be working on in the future.
A finger spinner who can bowl leg-spin, googly, and flipper
I am unique in the sense that as a finger-spinner, I am also able to bowl leg-spin and have a pretty good googly and can also bowl a flipper. All of this I learnt not in any academy but by watching other players on television and all of these deliveries are getting me wickets in all formats. So, I learnt how to angle the ball to get the best results, how to hold the ball to bowl a flipper or how to ‘skid’ the ball on any surface. Having said that, my main strength is leg-spin but I make no use of my wrists to bowl which I guess makes me difficult to handle or read.
Chance to play proper cricket based upon my skills in tape-ball cricket at the RLCA
I would play a lot in tape-ball matches which would be played on roads in different parts of Karachi and in one of these games, a gentleman who I didn’t know, came up to me and said that since I bowled so well, I should start playing hard-ball cricket. Inspired by what he said, I went to the Rashid Latif Cricket Academy (RLCA) in 2014 and asked if I could train there. I was told that I could only practice there after appearing for trials as the academy had some senior players in it and I couldn’t just walk in and start training alongside them. Thankfully, I impressed all in these trials and was given permission to practice three days a week. Around the same time, I was given a chance to play in the Lines Area Club and I continued to perform well there, causing the Head Coach in the club to tell me to look for a position in the Under-19 side at the district level.
Playing District level Under-19 cricket in Karachi
I appeared for the trials and despite the high numbers of players who turned out for the trials, I was able to impress the coaches with my ability to bowl well to all types of batsmen which got me into the Zone 3 side in 2015. I only played 4 matches that season but in the Inter-District Under-19 Two-Day Tournament, I took 15 wickets at an average of 25. After that, I played the Inter Region Under-19 Three Day Tournament (2015/16) for Karachi Region and in 3 matches took 13 wickets. I was then spotted by Rashid Latif who really praised me and asked me to play in a local one-day tournament but I got afflicted with illness and could not play any further cricket that season.
Challenged by coach to take 50 wickets in a tournament but I took 54!
In the next season, Bharat Kumar who was our coach for Karachi Zone 3 told me that he was really impressed by my bowling but as a challenge asked me to see if I could get 50 wickets in the Regional Inter-District Under-19 Two Day Tournament (2016/17). I took that challenge on in this red-ball tournament and went past the 50 wickets mark and actually ended up with 54 wickets in 6 games, which included 7 five-wicket hauls at an average of just 12.
Excelling on greener wickets and out of my comfort zone to become the highest wicket-taker in regional One-Day tournament
After bowling on spin-friendly wickets in Karachi, I was asked to bowl on wickets which were less friendly for spinners. Initially, I felt disappointed and a little sad because I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to perform outside of my comfort zone of pitches in Karachi but with the Almighty’s help, I did not disappoint my team management. Playing for Karachi Region Whites Under-19 side in Bahawalpur, Abbottabad, Islamabad and Mirpur during the Inter-Region Under-19 One-Day Tournament (2016/17), I took 17 wickets to become the highest wicket-taker in the tournament. The most impressive part of this achievement was that I was competing on fast-bowler friendly wickets against the likes of Mohammad Hasnain and Mohammad Musa and experienced spinners such as Ibtisam Sheikh and I was still able to be the top wicket-taker.
High praise from Mickey Arthur, but disappointment due to injury in PSL 2017
I was selected by Karachi Kings to play in the second season of the PSL and my performances in practice games caught the eye of the Head Coach Mickey Arthur who really praised me for my bowling. I was then rewarded with the opportunity to play two matches in that tournament and it seemed that I would have a good season in the PSL. However, I had been feeling some pain in my back and once tests were done, it was found that I had two stress fractures in my back – specifically in the L4 and L5 vertebrae which meant that my PSL season came to an abrupt end. I was then sent to recuperate in the NCA on Mickey Arthur’s recommendation. I continued my rehabilitation for almost one year during which I suffered a lot of pain but continued to work on my fitness. I played no cricket in most of 2018 but towards the end of the year, was able to play some games and was once again selected by Karachi Kings for the 2018 edition of the PSL. But in 2018, Umer Khan was preferred over me during the matches where he impressed everyone with his performances.
Mickey continued to encourage me even after his departure from Pakistan and sent me a text message saying that I was a natural talent, and I should continue working hard. I will always treasure his advice and praise for me.
High quality performances in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy for second XIs in 2020/21
I was asked to play in the National T20 Cup in 2020/21 as they considered me to be a T20 specialist. I was asked to sit out three games but I did play 2 matches for Sindh second XI in that tournament where I bowled decent spells, sometimes with the new ball, and took 3 wickets as well. An injury to a player in the side in the second XI for the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy allowed me an opportunity to play in the 3-day red-ball tournament, and I did not disappoint anyone with some excellent performances and as of now am the leading wicket-taker with 39 wickets at an average of 11.87 to my name. My most memorable game so far in this tournament was the one against Central Punjab who had some big names such as Usman Salahuddin and Mohammad Saad and I was able to claim their wickets which was very satisfying.
Shahid Afridi as someone I idolize as a role model but want to play like Shoaib Akhtar
I have been watching Shahid Afridi play cricket since childhood and there is so much respect in my heart for someone who has done so much for Pakistan. He has always been my role model but it’s Shoaib Akhtar’s ‘ bouncer-bowling’ attitude which really inspires me every time I play. When it comes to looking at techniques of bowlers, I regularly watch videos of Sunil Narine, Ajantha Mendis and Mujeeb Ur Rahman as there is plenty to learn from the way they bowl, especially since they have a bowling style similar to myself.
Aspirations to play for Pakistan but at the moment, concentrating on performing well in domestic cricket
Like any aspiring cricketer, I would like to represent Pakistan in any format where I can serve my country but at the moment, I am working hard to ensure that I do well in domestic cricket so as to come to the attention of the selectors. I am also hoping to get another chance to play in the next edition of the Pakistan Super League where I can further showcase my skills.