Mohammad Asghar: The next big thing in Pakistan cricket?

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When the Pakistan Super League (PSL) kicked off on last week, it was inevitable that Pakistan’s first franchise-based T20 league would produce more than one exciting prospects for the future.

On the very first day, it was Quetta Gladiators’ Mohammad Nawaz who stole the show by bagging three wickets to help his team beat Islamabad United convincingly.

But when the fan-favourite PSL side, Peshawar Zalmi, took to the field in the third match of the event on Friday, it was a day to remember for an 18-year-old named Mohammad Asghar.

As the Peshawar captain Shahid Afridi handed the ball to the left-arm spinner, he showed no signs of nerves facing off against dashing Australian all-rounder Shane Watson.

With just the third ball of his PSL career, Asghar sent Islamabad’s Babar Azam back to the pavilion as the right-hander skied the ball in an attempt to clear the fence. He was beaten comprehensively with the flight of the delivery.

“Its like a dream to play and perform in the PSL,” says Asghar who has taken six wickets in three outings for Peshawar Zalmi.

Asghar started his journey to the big stage in the streets of Hub where his friends, impressed by his skills, backed him to pursue cricket professionally.

He joined the National Combine Cricket club before his talent was recognized by National Bank’s Ishaq Patel who later introduced him to former Pakistan Test cricketer Iqbal Qasim, a slow left-arm bowler himself and the head of NBP’s sports affairs.

“Asghar is a natural talent like Wasim Akram,” says Iqbal Qasim who believes that the Zalmi bowler has something special and has the potential to become a great player.

“The control Asghar has over his spin bowling is something that can’t be taught to a bowler and is always inborn,” added the former Test cricketer.

Asghar was recruited in the NBP Under-19s side and started to earn around Rs. 10,000 then, but his consistent performances have led to a three-times increase in his pay.

“Asghar’s greatest weapon is his self-confidence,” says Iqbal.

Iqbal revealed that in the initial stages of his career, Asghar used to travel to Karachi from Hub on a regular basis, such was his passion. The 18-year-old was later facilitated with accommodation in the cosmopolitan by NBP.

The passion was there for all to see as Asghar spun his web around Quetta on Sunday and his rapid rise on the big stage suggests that Pakistan may soon have their newest superstar.