Talent Spotter catches up with recently appointed Pakistan U19 captain Azeem Ghumman who will be leading in a tri-series against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Azeem is an 18 year old right handed opening batsman and was born in Hyderabad, Sind.
Azeem for those of you who are not aware plays for Sui Southern Gas Corporation and was recently announced as the Under 19 captain for the forthcoming triangular series in Sri Lanka with Bangladesh as the other opponents for a series that commences on 25th November.
In 17 matches in first class cricket he has already scored 1415 runs at an average of nearly 49. Included in those 1415 runs are 5 centuries and 4 half centuries, including 183 against Lahore Shalilmar.
In his own words- "I dont believe in trying to smash the bowling everywhere right from the start of an innings. I like to assess the conditions, look at how the wicket is playing and what the bowlers are doing. In Twenty/20 cricket I like to give myself one over to settle at the crease and in 50 over cricket I give myself a few overs at the crease to settle".
"I got interested in cricket when as a 5 or 6 year old I would watch the great PIA team and I wanted to emulate the way they played the game. I started playing cricket in school and my big break came when trials were held in Hyderabad in 2003. I still recall how I turned up late at the trials with my green pads and green batting gloves, but very little other equipment. It nearly ended before it began for me, because I was told that I wouldn't get the chance to bat as I was too late".
"Shoaib Mohammed, the former Pakistan and PIA opening batsman was in charge of the trials and after some pleading and discussions I was told that I could face a few of the bowlers that were also at the trials. When I started to bat, I remember how Shoaib came over and started to watch me. After I had finished my batting stint, he came over to me and said "MashAllah Hyderabad is producing such talent". It was a huge boost for my confidence".
"I was then selected for the Hyderabad regional team and in my first season I scored a century and a half century. Word had got back to Sui Southern Gas Corporation about me and they asked me to go and play for them after my first season for Hyderabad. However I decided that I would play another season for Hyderabad, as I felt that my chances may have been limited at Sui Southern Gas Corporation and I wanted to establish myself at Hyderabad. During my time at Hyderabad I scored a record 326 runs in one innings in an Under 19 inter regional match".
"After my second season at Hyderabad I was again asked by Sui Southern Gas Corporation to play for them. There was also interest from other departmental teams like KRL and others, but I opted for SSGC and I have been really pleased in playing for them".
"My favourite player at the moment is Ricky Ponting. I really like the way he bats and I model my batting on Ricky. You could say I'm not your usual Pakistani batsman because a lot of the boys in domestic cricket rely on front froot strokes, but my strength is my back foot shots. I really lilke to cut and pull and I dont rely on just my front foot shots. I strongly believe that to succeed in international cricket around the world, you need to have the ability to play strokes off the back foot".
"Being asked to captain my country at under 19 level in the upcoming tri series in Sri Lanka is a huge honour for me and I am so proud especially given that there is an international player in our squad. We have a good squad with exciting talent like Ahmed Shehzad and Usman Qadir. Its a busy time for the under 19 team with the World Cup taking place early next year and I'm really looking forward to that tournament".
"I like to set myself goals. There is no point in playing professional sport if you dont have an aim and dont set yourself targets. I have set myself the goal of InshAllah playing for Pakistan within 2 years and I hope and pray that I can do that".