A profile of Multan-born Arafat Minhas who has impressed with his recent all-round performances in the Pakistan Junior League and the Pakistan Cup, and has been picked by Multan Sultans for PSL 8.
By Amir Husain (12 January, 2023)
Full Name: Arafat Minhas
Date of Birth: 2 January 2005, Multan
Major teams: Pakistan Under-19s, Southern Punjab Whites Under 19s, Southern Punjab, Gwadar Sharks, Multan Sultans
Batting style: Left-handed
Bowling style: Slow left-arm orthodox
Interest in Cricket
My interest in cricket was ignited due to my father, Kashif Minhas, who was a Under-19 cricketer. Whilst I started playing tape-ball cricket around my home at the age of 6 and continued to progress further, I have never given up on my education and after completing F.Sc. (Grade 12), intend to pursue it at a university level as and when time allows.
I have always admired AB de Villiers as someone who I can learn a lot from and be motivated by, especially when we see how he brought changes to the Twenty20 game due to his shot selection and attitude. In terms of role models, I haven’t had to look too far away from home as my father has provided me all the advice and help which I have needed. Of course, I am also indebted to my coaches Tahir Mahmood Faiz and Naeem Iqbal who have been my mentors for a long time.
Move to red-ball club-level cricket at the age of 9
In 2014, at the age of just 9, I appeared for trials with the Crescent Club in Multan and was selected to play for them. I was the youngest player in the side at that time and was given no special privileges which was both daunting and character building. This club has in the past produced many well-known cricketers such as Sohaib Maqsood, Aamer Yamin and Zain Abbas to name a few so I am very proud to have been associated with this club.
Excelling at the Under-13 and Under-16 levels
My journey to the Under-19 level started from my appearance in the PCB Under-13s Inter Regional T20 Tournament in 2017 where I took 7 wickets and followed up those performances in the PCB Under-13s Inter Regional T20 Tournament 2018 where I took 6 wickets. In both cases, I was invited to PCB’s high-performance camps for Under-13s which were huge achievements for me. I then progressed to the Under-16 stage between 2018-2020 during which I was adjudged the Player of the Tournament in PCB National Under-16 One Day Tournament 2020/21 for scoring 312 runs and taking 9 wickets in 5 games.
Under-19 cricket for Southern Punjab
I then moved on to play for Southern Punjab Association Under-19s from 2021-2022 and was adjudged Player of the tournament in the National Under-19 Championship 2021/22 (3-Day) where I took 22 wickets and scored 504 runs. I also performed well in the National Under-19 Cup 2021/22 (One-Day) where I took 10 wickets in 5 games. All these performances were crucial for my inclusion in the then upcoming Pakistan Junior League (PJL) tournament.
Unexpected success at the Pakistan Junior League
Based upon my performances in the Under-19 season, I was selected in the draft for the Pakistan Junior League by the Gwadar Sharks. For a youngster like myself, this was a huge opportunity to play in a tournament which was getting worldwide attention and the games were televised as well. The experience of playing at such a stage and handling the pressure of such high intensity games was something I feel will help me a lot in the future. Playing alongside and against some very talented foreign players where we shared our experiences was very interesting. As for my personal performances, I am very proud to have been named the best all-rounder and the captain of the Pakistan Junior League Team of the tournament due to my scoring 178 runs and taking nine wickets at 17.67 to finish joint fourth on the bowlers chart. I knew I had the talent but the level of success I achieved in this tournament was quite unexpected and thankfully lead to my being selected for the Pakistan Under-19s.
Sir Viv Richards presence and advice is one that will stay with me forever
During the PJL, my team-mates and I were very fortunate to have access to a mentor like Sir Viv Richards. Just his presence around us had an impact and the way he would sit with us in the dug-out and be with the team was brilliant. His most important advice which especially coming from a legendary cricketer will stay with me forever, was simply that if one had the will, they could move mountains and achieve anything. Regardless of the match situation, he was always there to boost our morale and provided us with positive feedback. It was indeed an honour and a pleasure to have Sir Viv Richards with us in the tournament.
The Pakistan Under-19 experience for the series against Bangladesh Under-19
My performances in the PJL resulted in being called for the OD and T20 squads for the home series against Bangladesh Under-19s. To be able to represent Pakistan at any level is a dream come true for any player and the feeling I had when I was called up was something I can never put in words. To have the Pakistan crescent and star on my jersey was a matter of great pride for me. I was selected to play in 3 ODs and 2 T20s and was player of the series for the 50-over games with 171 runs and three wickets to my name. The most memorable part of that series was the final T20 where we were chasing 164 to win and I remained 50 not out whilst scoring the winning runs with a six. This was a special occasion not just because I had contributed to the win but also because my family members were in the crowd and watching me perform so well.
Pakistan Cup playing under the leadership of Hassan Ali
The Pakistan Cup where I represented Southern Punjab was a huge milestone in my career. This tournament saw me debut in the List A format where I had good all-round performances with 330 runs and 9 wickets in 10 games. Our side did make it to the Semi-Finals of the tournament but unfortunately could not qualify for the final. The experience of playing in a top-class domestic tournament was phenomenal especially if one considers the big names of Pakistan cricket that I was playing alongside and against. What made the experience even more special for me was the fact that we had Hassan Ali as our captain who lead from the front and allowed youngsters like myself to express ourselves without fear on the field. One of the most memorable innings of the tournament which will stay in my memory for a long time was the one during my List A debut versus Sindh. In this case, we were chasing a mammoth target of 276 and we were in a tough position after losing 4 wickets with the score at 16. It is at that time, I joined Usman Salahuddin at the crease. Together we put on a 143-run partnership where Usman Salahuddin hit 89 and I was out for 81. Our partnership set the scene for our eventual win which was a highlight of the tournament for me.
Looking forward to performing with for the Multan Sultans in PSL 8
I had been keeping an eye on the Player Draft for PSL 8 on television and was slightly disappointed when my name was not picked in the Emerging Category. In my mind at that point, I had concluded that whilst I would not be part of the tournament, I would not give up and continue working hard. It was then when my name was announced as a pick in the Supplementary Category by Multan Sultans and my mood changed! I was overjoyed and made up my mind to make sure that I will repay the trust put in me by Multan Sultans if I am given an opportunity to perform. Of course, my family members and all my acquaintances were also over the moon when they heard about this.
The opportunity to be part of the Pakistan Test squad was a dream come true
I was participating in the Pakistan Cup when I was told by my coach that I had been inducted in the Pakistan Test squad for the 1st Test against New Zealand. This was like a dream come true for me as I really enjoyed the atmosphere within the senior team in Karachi. I got to observe and absorb first-hand how the senior team members were preparing for the day's play and also how they were approaching tough match conditions on a session-by-session basis. We also trained with the squad and this experience will surely be of great benefit for me in the future.
Future Aspirations to play for Pakistan
All my energies and hard work are focused towards representing Pakistan in the future. I will be happy to be part of the Pakistan team in all formats of the game, knowing fully well that all this requires hard work and determination. All my training and efforts at the moment are geared towards playing in all three formats of the game and I will be ready to perform if given a chance in the future.