A profile of Mohammad Imran who has impressed with his performances for the Southern Punjab second and first XI sides in the National T20 Cup and Quaid-e-Azam Trophy tournament as well as in the PSL 5 Eliminator game for Peshawar Zalmi against Lahore Qalandars.
By Amir Husain (4th December, 2020)
Full name: Mohammad Imran
Date of Birth: December 25, 1996, Khanewal
Major teams Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Lahore Qalandars, Peshawar Zalmi, Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited
Batting style: Right-hand bat
Bowling style: Right-arm medium
I trained as a Kabaddi player, but my heart was set on playing cricket
I always had a passion for cricket but since Kabaddi was a popular sport in the area I lived in, I had to forego my love for cricket and concentrate on Kabaddi in my school years. But I persisted as I had a lot of passion for cricket, in fact so much passion that I would stay back after school and wait until evening for the tape-ball games to begin. I would miss out on lunch and only after playing until late at night would I go home, such was my love for cricket. My hard work did pay off in the end as I became the first to play First-class cricket from my area in Khanewal district.
Moving on from Kabaddi to First-class cricket in 2015
I played cricket at regional Under-19 level for Bahawalpur from 2013 but was not able to find a place in the senior District level teams which made me feel really disheartened. During this time, I had an opportunity to play in a Kabaddi tournament in Sindh in 2014 because playing that game was a good way to earn money. During that trip, I had a yearning to do some net practice and I went to a local ground where a former First-class cricketer Azhar Shafiq spotted me. He was really impressed with my batting and spoke to me and when I explained that I was starting to lose interest in cricket, he gave me an opportunity to play in a team he was running locally and I did not disappoint him. From that point I moved away from Kabaddi and cricket became my only sport. I played Grade 2 and did well in it and finally made my debut in First-class cricket in 2015 for SNGPL.
Mohammad Hafeez and Jacques Kallis as role models
If there is one player I admire and follow, it is Mohammad Hafeez. He has been my favourite and role model from the time I started playing cricket, in fact even my current style of batting and even my bowling action in days when I would bowl spin has been copied from Hafeez. Obviously, there are many others who I have admired and here I would like to mention Jacques Kallis who in my view is the perfect all-rounder for anyone to copy. I would like to be like him in the sense that when I am handed the ball, I should perform like a proper fast- bowler, and when asked to bat then I should be counted as a specialist batsman too. Thankfully, this is a quality that a lot of people who have seen me play feel I have, and this does fill me with a lot of confidence.
An avid follower of Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya is an all-rounder that I am following with great interest and I must say I am a great fan of his. The one quality that excites me about Pandya is his courage and whilst injury has prevented him from bowling, I have yet to see another batsman who can hit the ball as hard as he can and that makes him such an important part of the Indian side.
Experience of playing PSL 5
At the start of the 2020/21 season, I was immensely disappointed at not being part of the first XI for Southern Punjab even though I was the joint highest wicket-taker in the 2019/20 season in the National T20 Cup and had 23 wickets in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy for second XIs in the same season. On top of that, I also put in 4-5 months of intense hard work during the COVID-19 lockdown in Pakistan with the hope that I would be noticed by domestic selectors but seemed that all that was to no avail as far selection for the first XI was concerned.
I must also add that until that point my experience with PSL hadn’t been that great as I had been part of Lahore Qalandars in PSL 4 as an emerging player but never got to play any games for the franchise which was also a bit of a setback. But then fate intervened and with Hassan Ali being unfit for the PSL 5 Playoffs, I was asked to step in by Peshawar Zalmi. The news was a total shock to me and I only found out after a phone call from Mohammad Akram and of course once I absorbed the news, my family and I were overjoyed at this opportunity. I was very happy that Zalmi had considered my recent form and domestic history when they took the decision to involve me in such an important game.
The role of Mohammad Akram and Wahab Riaz during PSL 5
Once I was with the Zalmi squad, Mohammad Akram and Wahab Riaz really helped me gain confidence with a lot of encouragement. They would constantly tell me that I had it what it took to be the best and I just needed to continue working hard. This sort of morale boost paid off for me when I did bat in the Eliminator game against Lahore Qalandars where I hit a six on the second ball I faced in that game. And the effects of that confidence didn’t just stop with my batting – in the Qalandars run chase of 171, I took the wicket of a very confident looking Ben Dunk on the first ball! Once again this showed how encouragement can do wonders for any players and I am indebted to Zalmi and especially their coaching staff as well as our captain Wahab Riaz for that.
Looking ahead to the future
I am very pleased with my performances in this season and especially now that I have been promoted to the first XI for Southern Punjab in the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam trophy, I am looking forward to putting in some good performances which could at some point help me get the attention of the national selectors. I recently scored a hundred in this tournament so that has given me a lot of confidence and I am now aiming to take more wickets and to become the best all-rounder in this competition. I know that I also have some weaknesses so the moment the Quaid-e-Azam trophy ends, I am planning to go straight back to the nets. Hopefully, I will be able to iron out any issues in my batting and bowling and be ready for the next season of PSL, in case I am picked again by one of the franchises. Of course, all cricketers dream of playing for their country so I am hoping that a good performance in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and then a chance to play in the PSL will be enough for me to be selected for Pakistan in the future.