Abrar Ahmed appeared during Karachi Kings’ talent hunt drive ‘Khiladi Ki Khoj’ at the National Stadium Karachi ahead of Pakistan Super League 2017. Bowling his deceiving leg-spinners to other budding cricketers at the open trials, he impressed the coaches and was picked by Karachi Kings for the second season of the PSL. Ahmed was living his dream, a dream that seemed a distant one just a few days ago. He was ecstatic and his family was proud of him. “All players want to play a big event, PSL was huge. It was a special feeling, everyone was happy around me,” he said.
Like any other kid of Karachi, Ahmed grew up playing tape-ball cricket in the streets. At an age of 15, he joined Rashid Latif Cricket Academy. “People told me, ‘you are skillful, your googly is hard to read, your leg-spinners are hard to pick, you should focus on cricket more’,” he said. The glasses-wearing young bowler used his incredible art and conquered each level from club to district and emerged as the best bowler in Karachi in 2016-17 in One Dayers as well as in three-day games.
Karachi Kings had a star-studded squad during the second edition of the league. The then 18-year-old was awestruck when he saw his heroes for the first time. There was Sri Lankan batting maestro, who was captaining the side, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, West Indian superstar Chris Gayle, Shoaib Malik and other stars sharing the dressing room with him. “I was a bit nervous when I first went to bowl to [Kumar] Sangakkara and [Chris] Gayle in the nets, but before my first game for Karachi Kings, I was relaxed due to my performance during the practice matches,” he shared.
Abrar Ahmed is a similar kind of bowler to Sri Lanka’s Ajantha Mendis, who spins the ball using his middle finger. For the very reason, he also idealizes West Indies’ Sunil Narine, though he is an off-spinner, he has a variation of leg-spin using the same technique. Ahmed got some useful tips from his role model, who was representing Lahore Qalandars in the event. Moreover, Sri Lankan veteran cricketer, Jayawardene also shared the secrets that made Mendis so effective in the international arena.
During his brief stint with Karachi Kings in the second season of the league, Ahmed still remembers the three overs he bowled against Eoin Morgan of Peshawar Zalmi. The English skipper was unable to pick his variations, he conceded just eight runs in the first three overs. Those 18 deliveries gave the young spinner much-needed confidence. However, as he looked to bamboozle some of the best batsmen of the world during the rest of the tournament, his dream came to an abrupt and saddening end with a stress fracture in the back, which put his whole career in jeopardy. “It was a tough time, I still feel hard talking about that injury,” he said. “It was a huge setback, but I was determined to make a comeback.”
He worked hard to regain his fitness, worked on his back and it took him around one-and-a-half years to return to the field. Karachi Kings have once again shown their faith on the 20-year-old spinner for the fourth season of the league. He has seen the glittering world of PSL before, but it will be a new start for him. The league has become bigger, better and more competitive than ever before. He will be bowling to world-class players such as South Africa’s AB de Villiers, who will be playing for Lahore Qalandars, but he is not overawed with the situation. “I am ready to go, I have not planned how I will bowl to him [AB de Villiers], I will just stick to my strengths and bowl according to the situation,” he added.
Pakistan Super League has given some talented players to Pakistan, but Ahmed admires the achievements of Shadab Khan, who started off as a promising leg-spinner for Islamabad United and is now one of the best bowlers of the world in the limited-over cricket. Ahmed wants to use PSL as a stage to showcase his skills and get a place in the national team of Pakistan. “I want to be the best bowler of the event and earn a place in Pakistan’s national team,” he said.
Karachi will host five of the eight matches scheduled in Pakistan. Karachi Kings will play two league games against Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators in their backyard. During the home games of the Kings, the atmosphere is expected to be absolutely electrifying and all the players are excited to play in front of the home crowd. “We are really excited, not only to play the league games but we are looking forward to playing the final in the National Stadium Karachi and winning it in front of the home crowd,” he said.