Fakhar Zaman is a Pakistani cricketer and a former navy sailor who plays for the Pakistan National Cricket team in all three formats of the game usually as an opening batsman alongside Imam-ul-Haq. A left handed explosive batsman, Fakhar Zaman has made numerous records and has solidified his place amongst the Pakistani Playing XI. Apart from batting, he is also a slow left-arm orthodox bowler and occasionally bowls in the middle overs to restrict the run rate. He also plays for Lahore Qalandars team in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in which he is currently the stand-in captain for the team as a result of injuries of Muhammad Hafeez and AB de Villiers. Currently Fakhar Zaman is in line for a chance to represent the National team at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 to be held in England and Wales.
Fakhar was born on 10th April 1990 in Mardan District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Although Fakhar joined the Pakistan Navy, he maintained an interest in cricket and continued to play in multiple regional teams until he was finally selected for the Lahore Qalandars squad where he was closely mentored by Brendon McCullum. Under his captaincy, Zaman developed himself into an attacking opening batsman. His performance in Pakistan Cup and PSL laid way to his selection to the national side.
International Career (Champions Trophy and onwards):
Fakhar made his debut to limited overs cricket 30th March 2017 in a T20 Series against West Indies. In April 2017, he was named to the Pakistani 16 players ODI squad for ICC Champions Trophy 2017. Although Pakistan didn’t have such a positive start to the tournament losing their initial match to India, they eventually found their form and ensured their spot in the semi-finals. Fakhar made his debut against South Africa on 7th June 2017 scoring only 31 runs. His 50s against Sri Lanka and England ensured Pakistan’s ticket to the CT Final.
Fakhar gained widespread fame due to his performance in the Champions Trophy Final against India. In the early overs of the match, Zaman edged the ball to the wicket-keeper when his score was 3 but it was given as a no-ball due to Jasprit Bumrah overstepping the line. This second chance proved disastrous for India who suffered a crushing defeat by 180 runs. Fakhar’s century laid the foundation of a solid 338 runs innings by Pakistan which proved too much for India to chase. Fakhar Zaman and Azhar Ali’s 128 runs partnership was the highest opening partnership for Pakistan in Champions Trophy history and Fakhar received “Man of the Match” award for his performance.
Another major milestone for Fakhar was receiving the test cap. In April 2018, he was selected for the Pakistani Test Squad for their series against England and Ireland but didn’t make it to the playing XI due to his aggressive batting style.
Fakhar Zaman made highlights again due to his outstanding performance in Pakistan’s T20 tri-series against Australia and Zimbabwe held in Zimbabwe. During this series, he became the first Pakistani to score 500 or more runs in calendar year. Pakistan’s overall performance in the series was outstanding. In the final against Australia on 8th July 2018, Fakhar’s marvelous batting enabled Pakistan to chase the target set by Australia and win the series. Fakhar fell short of his century by only 9 runs scoring a blistering 91 runs. He was named “Man of the Match and Series” for his wonderful performance.
Fakhar consistently performed well during the Zimbabwe series, scoring a double century on 20 July 2018 finishing on 210 not out which is the highest individual score by a Pakistani in ODIs. This innings also helped propel Pakistan’s score to 399 which is their highest in ODIs. His partnership with Imam-ul-Haq of 304 is also the highest opening partnership in ODIs. Just two days later, he became the fastest player to score 1000 runs in ODIs in just 18 innings beating the previously held record at 21 innings.
He made his test debut against Australia on 16 October 2018.
Fakhar’s marvelous form came to a crashing halt when he was unable to put up a big score in any match of the Asia Cup held in UAE. Despite the tournament taking place in Pakistan’s Backyard, Pakistan suffered two defeats at the hands of India and couldn’t make their place into the finals. Further performances against New Zealand and South Africa have not been up to mark as well. Currently he has been rested for the Australian Tour.
Role in Pakistan Cricket Team:
Fakhar Zaman’s role has been set from his debut which is to provide a blistering start to the team during the mandatory power-play overs in start of the innings. The field restrictions during this period provides Fakhar with an opportunity to strike the ball outside the 30 yard circle. His purpose is to provide a good opening stand to Pakistan and build up a partnership in the early phases of the innings without losing his wicket.
Fakhar Zaman leading to the WC and performance review since Champions Trophy:
Fakhar Zaman had been in sublime form ever since the CT Final winning numerous records to his name. His performances in tri-series and Zimbabwe tour proved that he is an effective run-chaser and can hit the ball to all parts of the ground. Once the rhythm gets going, he can post a big score which can put the opposition under pressure. Unfortunately his recent performances in Asia Cup and against New Zealand and South Africa have not been up to par. Analysts have linked his poor performance to his inability to play the short balls and balls pitched up to his body. Critics have also pointed out his hasty batting and urge to go after every ball. Analysts have called for coaches to improve his technique for further matches. During PSL 2019, there is considerable improvement in his overall batting form but Pakistan Cricket Board has decided to give rest to him in the upcoming Australia series citing the reason that the players who have been playing for quite long have been rested off to ensure their availability for ICC WC 2019. PCB plans to rest these players in this series in order to ensure these players play series against England in order to get accustomed to the conditions and pitches of England. This would certainly help Pakistan in WC.
His responsibility in the upcoming WC:
Fakhar’s major role in the WC would be to make an effective opening stand with Imam-ul-Haq as they are both the front-runners for the opening spots. Imam’s game plan is to just work the ball and target the gaps so he would mostly be looking for the rotation of strike. It would be up to Fakhar to ensure that they don’t lose momentum and try to hit a boundary every now and then so there is no scoreboard pressure. If he can bat efficiently till the 24th or 25th over and keep the scoreboard ticking then Pakistan can perform well.
Fakhar Zaman’s International Stats:
Table 1: Fakhar Zaman International Statistics