Ibtisam Sheikh – Pakistan cricket’s Harry Potter

Ibtisam Sheikh - Pakistan cricket's Harry Potter

The young leg-spinner from Hyderabad, Ibtisam Sheikh has got all the traits of Harry Potter, he is brave, confident and he never backs off from challenging situations.

The difference between Ibtisam and Harry is that the latter one fights against demons in witches in reel life with his magic wand. Whereas, the 19-year old leggie takes on world’s best batsmen using his magical leg-breaks, flippers and googlies.

Ibtisam is impressed with Harry, but wants to make his own identity, in the real world — the world of cricket — where it is double hard work.

“Yes, I have seen a few of Harry Potter films and feel that he is impressive,” Ibtisam told ARY News. “But I want my own identity. I am Ibtisam Sheikh and want to be that. Yes, I have a few similarities with Harry, the kind of big challenges and all but cricket is different and here you have to show your talent to make a mark.”

Unlike Harry, Ibtisam has a family headed by his doctor father and his elder brother is also from the same profession, so naturally, his parents wanted him to study medicine. But no one dissuaded him from playing cricket and opting a career there. Ibtisam played his initial cricket on the streets of Hyderabad.

If Harry fights with fire, Ibtisam fought with hot and ferocious weather of his city. Hyderabad region coach Iqbal Imam spotted talent in him. “Ibtisam comes as a hard-working youngster who is never tired of bowling and is not afraid of taking challenges. He impressed everyone after playing for the region and through the draft was included in Faisalabad team,” remembers Imam, himself a first-class cricketer of great repute.

Ibtisam struck gold in his first First-Class match. Playing for Faisalabad against Sui Northern Gas, his first wicket was of great Misbah-ul-Haq.

“It added to my confidence immensely,” recalls Ibtisam. “When you get a batsman like Misbah it adds to your confidence.” Ibtisam got a chance to train under National Cricket Academy head coach Mushtaq Ahmed who polished his skills further.

But the real breakthrough came when Peshawar Zalmi head coach Mohammad Akram spotted him and decided to include him in the emerging category. Akram, a former Pakistan paceman, has a great eye for talent. It was Akram who predicted about Hasan Ali making a name when the paceman was included in the first PSL, also as an emerging player.

“Ibtisam has talent and he can go places,” said Akram. “When we saw him bowl it impressed us so we decided to give him a chance in the emerging category.”

When the news reached Ibtisam he was so thrilled that his mobile fell down.

“I was awestruck and was not believing my ears,” remembers Ibtisam. “I have dreamt of making it big but the news of getting included in the emerging category was so surprising that the mobile slipped out of my hand. Its a dream come true.”

To their credit, Peshawar Zalmi included Ibtisam in the first match of PSL 3 and although he did not get any wicket against a formidable Multan Sultans, his bowling skills caught the eyes. The big occasion made him slightly nervous as bowling against world class players like Kumar Sangakkara and Shoaib Malik was a huge task, he bowled a little shorter than the ideal length, but skipper Darren Sammy backed him.

Sammy laughed off the leggie’s comparison with Harry Potter.

“That’s a good comparison,” Sammy told ARY News. “Before he played the first match I tweeted that ‘look out for this young leg-spinner.’ I must say that he is a very confident young man.

“Peshawar Zalmi is known for giving chances to emerging players. Two years ago Hasan Ali was our emerging player and fast track two years later he is the world number one one-day bowler so it is all about giving youngsters to Pakistan cricket.”

Ibtisam took 3-20 against Islamabad and followed that up with 2-25 against Karachi Kings.

“Till now my best wicket is Colin Ingram,” said the proud leg-spinner. “I want to make a name for myself in PSL and this will help me get a place in the Pakistan team.

“The ultimate goal is to play for Pakistan.”

So Harry Porter has arrived on cricket scenes!