14-year-old all-rounder wishes to emulate Imran Khan

Shehzad's consistent performances earned him a place in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup squad

14-year-old all-rounder wishes to emulate Imran Khan PHOTO COURTESY: PCB

The International Cricket Council (ICC) Under-19 Cricket World Cup will provide teenagers from around the world a lifetime opportunity of making an impression on the cricketing world.

Pakistan players selected for the global event are looking to make the most of the opportunity at hand and one such player is young all-rounder Mohammad Shehzad, who hails from Dera Ghazi Khan, a small town in Punjab.

Shehzad made a big career move very early in his life when he left his hometown and settled in Lahore to pursue his dream of making a big name as a cricketer.

The 14-year-old had to deal with the tragedy of his father’s death at an early age and since has committed himself to cricket as he shoulders the responsibility of his family which includes his mother and five younger brothers.

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Shehzad’s first memories of playing cricket are as a nine-year-old in DG Khan. The right-armer played cricket with boys older than him and it helped in improving his game and in no time his cricket talent started getting recognised.

“Due to lack of cricket infrastructure and facilities in Dera Ghazi Khan, I was advised to move to Lahore. I joined Pak Lions Cricket Academy two years ago and harnessed my skills there,” said Shehzad. “Imran Khan is my all-time favourite cricketer, while Babar Azam is the one batsman that I admire from the current generation.”

“I am delighted at my inclusion in the Pakistan squad for the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup. I am hopeful of doing well in the tournament. Head coach Ijaz Ahmed is guiding me as I am working on further improving my temperament, along with batting and bowling techniques,” he added.

Shehzad first appeared in PCB recognised cricket when he played the PCB-Inter Regional U13 T20 tournament in 2017. He scored 178 runs in three matches with the help of two half-centuries, his best was 98 while he also took three wickets with his right-arm pace bowling.

His impressive show at the U13 level earned Shehzad a spot in the Multan U16 team for the following year’s PCB-Pepsi U16 one-day tournament in 2018/19 season. In five games he totalled 197 runs with the help of two half-centuries. His performance continued to improve as he amassed 309 runs in the PCB U16 Pentangular Tournament in the same season. He was declared the best batsman of the tournament with one century and two half-centuries to his name.

Shehzad’s consistent run earned him the attention of the selectors and a place in Pakistan U16 team that took on Australia in a one-day and T20 series in the UAE in 2019.

Shehzad justified his selection by scoring a match winning 73 not out in the only T20 match of the series. His consistent run earned him a place in the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup squad.