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The story behind Azam Khan’s meteoric rise

Quetta Gladiators’ wicketkeeper-batsman has enjoyed great success in HBL PSL 5 so far

PHOTO COURTESY: Khel Shel

Pakistan might just have found the power-hitter they were looking for with the arrival of Azam Khan, son of former Pakistan wicketkeeper-batsman Moin Khan, after he took Habib Bank Limited (HBL) Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise Quetta Gladiators to victory against Islamabad United and Karachi Kings with match-winning contributions.

Moin Khan who is remembered for the two boundaries in the 1992 World Cup semi-final match against New Zealand, when Pakistan needed nine runs off eight balls, as he struck a six and a four to take Pakistan into the finals.

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For his son Azam the stage might not be big as the World Cup but he has surely booked a place in the upcoming matches of Quetta Gladiators in HBL PSL 2020.

Azam like the previous editions was selected in the emerging category this year too but he was given chance in the opening match of the tournament where he not only scored a fifty (59 off 33) but helped his team win the first match against Islamabad United. His next valuable contribution came when his side were chasing a decent target set by Karachi Kings as he struck two sixes and four boundaries to score 46 off 30 balls.

The only match he was not able to score was their second fixture against Peshawar where Azam was bowled out on five runs by Wahab Riaz.

His stats to date holds 122 runs in the four T20 matches he played one in PSL 2019 and three this season with a strike rate of 140.22 and an average of 30.5.

He made his List-A debut in 2018-19 season while he made his T20 debut playing for Quetta Gladiators in the 2019 edition of PSL. Just before the PSL 2020 began, Azam had his weight in mind, which is something he was criticised for by fans and critics, which is why he wanted to get leaner before the event.

He began his weight-losing training with the grandson of Hanif Muhammad, Shehzar Muhammad, for four straight months and was able to reduce 14 kilograms of weight.

“I wanted to get fit because people were calling me over-weight even after I scored some big runs. So I wanted to end that criticism and get fit,” told Azam while adding that the one thing he was concerned about before going to training was of the fear of losing his ability to hit big hits.

“I didn’t knew would I be able to hit same big hits after training as I will lose my power and body might get stiff, but the way Shehzar took me throughout the training was so motivating that I myself was feeling much fitter and more powerful,” he added.

If you talk about his playing style, you will see glimpses of Chris Gayle. He gets into a good position and uses his power to swing the bat and hit the ball over the ropes.

“My ideal is Chris Gayle because the way he hits the boundaries makes me play like him. I had watched him so much that I might have developed his playing style,” he said.

Talking about the criticism that he faces being a son of Moin Khan, he said: “Being a son of a cricketer is not my fault and I don’t find a reason to be criticised. Yes, if I hadn’t had the talent and was still in the team then it would have been right but today where I am is because of my talent which surely was built by the help of my father.”

As soon as Azam entered the ground to head towards the pitch in the opening match of PSL 2020, the crowd started chanting ‘parchi parchi’ to express their disappointment over his inclusion in the side but Azam let his bat do the talking.

“When I heard that it was a bit discouraging, but I wanted to silence them with my bat. I wanted to let my bat speak for me and that is what I did in the two matches, I didn’t miss any singles or doubles and made a decent score for the team,” he said.

Talking about his diet, he said: “I am not allowed to eat any junk food, just the high-protein diet, and black coffee. This is why I lost my 14kg and still want to lose more. I will begin my training where I left after the PSL ends and will not let the people talk negatively about me.”