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October 16, 2020

Big-hitting Azam on PCB think-tank’s radar


October 16, 2020

RAWALPINDI: Big hitter Azam Khan has caught the eyes of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) think-tank that has decided to work on his fitness at the High-Performance Centre in Lahore.

Young Azam, who has the uncanny ability to clear the field by some distance, was seen at his best playing for Sindh against Northern in the National T20 Cup at the Pindi Stadium on Wednesday.

“The experts will work on his fitness as he would be part of the High-Performance Centre in the coming days. He definitely is one for the future. There is a need to make him ready for the future international cricket,” one of the PCB officials when contacted said.

The one drawback in his armory definitely is Azam’s overweight which could well prove a major chunk in his ambition to play for the country. Son of former Pakistan Test wicketkeeper Moin Khan, Azam is well aware of his shortcoming.

“My ambition is to work even harder now and especially on my fitness. I fully realise that I was overweight last year but I have reduced more than 30kg. I still have a long way to go and I know I have to keep myself grounded if I have to achieve sustained success while further improving my batting skills,” he said in an interview.

Azam’s batting prowess is one of the reasons of Sindh’s resurgence and a berth in the semi-final after an ordinary Multan leg in which they won only one of their four matches.

Azam has so far hit the ball 19 times beyond the boundary ropes in the National T20 Cup, the most for any batsman in the tournament to date, with some of the shots landing well into the stands.

Azam developed his six-hitting habit from an early age while playing tape-ball cricket on the streets of Karachi.

“I have a vivid memory of that match, it was played in January 2016,” Azam said. “I was representing Moin Khan Academy team and our opponents were a team called Karachi Hawks. I scored 265 runs in the 20-over match. I hit 29 sixes and 12 fours. That innings gave me the confidence that I can do something in the game and the people who saw the innings spread the word about the game and the innings in Karachi cricketing circles.”

“My first cricket memory was playing cricket at the age of four or five. When the Moin Khan Academy was established, I started playing there.

“I feel very proud that my father has such a big name in Pakistan cricket and that my uncle was too a Test cricketer. We talk a lot about cricket and have quality discussions at home, which are a big opportunity to learn about the game at a young age.

“My dad and I watch a lot of old Pakistan matches together and discuss the details of the game and have some very healthy conversations which I thoroughly enjoy,” Azam said.

“Tape-ball cricket helped me develop big hitting; I started playing cricket at a semi-professional to a professional level at a young age which further enhanced my batting skills. I really enjoy practicing big hits during nets and range hitting sessions and I really back my ability of clearing the boundary which brings me a lot of joy.”

Azam, who can also keep wickets, remained part of the Quetta Gladiators side in the last seasons. This year’s edition, the homecoming of HBL Pakistan Super League, turned Azam’s fortunes as he won his side two matches at the National Stadium Karachi.

The 22-year-old is also hoping to don the Pakistan colours like his father and uncle.

“My dad has supported me throughout, I feel indebted to him and at the same time it is such a wonderful feeling to be backed by a legend of the game. Being a great of the game, he really understands everything and is very rarely fully satisfied with my performances, as he always wants me to strive harder and harder. I really want to make him happy and proud of my performances and that matters everything to me.”