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Friday Jun 04 2021

'I thought he must be joking': Azam Khan loss for words upon selection in Pakistan team

Batsman Azam Khan (centre) and former cricketer Moin Khan (right) — Photo by author

KARACHI: Azam Khan, the 22-year-old son of former Pakistan captain Moin Khan and batsman of PSL team Quetta Gladiators has revealed how he felt when he was first told by a colleague about being named in Pakistan’s national cricket team.

“I thought he must be joking,” Azam said when asked about his immediate reaction when he was told about his selection into the Pakistan team.

Azam Khan was named by Pakistani selectors in the T20I squad for the tour to England and West Indies on Friday morning. 

The 22-year-old batsman has, so far, played only 36 T20 domestic games scoring 743 runs at 23.96.

While the announcement was made in Lahore, Azam Khan was in Abu Dhabi, starting his day looking forward to another day full of training ahead of PSL action with his side Quetta Gladiators. He was at his breakfast table when the team’s senior official Nabeel Hashmi told him about his selection for the tour.

“I didn’t believe when I first heard it, I thought it was a joke,” Azam recalled.

“But then I checked my social media and I saw my name being trending, I was in tears. I left everything and rushed to my dad’s room and got emotional. It was, indeed, a very emotional scene and anyone would’ve thought that it is some scene from a movie,” the young batsman said.

Azam made his T20 debut in 2019, directly in PSL with Quetta Gladiators. His selection was criticised by many because of his relationship with the team’s coach Moin Khan. The young batsman was also bullied by many for his appearance. But, he didn’t let any taunt halt his journey.

He has, since then, played Lanka Premier League and is recently picked for Caribbean Premier League.

Azam realises that what lies ahead of him after being picked for the national team.

“I know I will have to work hard, even harder than before. I know what the challenge is for me and I will do my best to overcome it. I don’t want to stop here, I want myself to be a regular servant of Pakistan Cricket and I will do my best to achieve that,” he said.

Often being compared with West Indian legend Chris Gayle, the young batsman said that he doesn’t count himself near to the legendary batsman.

“I am not even his one per cent. I don’t compare myself with anyone else.” He said.

Azam also spoke high of his PSL team Quetta Gladiators and said that he achieved this only because he was given the opportunity by the Gladiators in the PSL. He mentioned how Sarfaraz Ahmed boosted his confidence and allowed him to excel in his show.

The young batsman can enter record books if he gets the cap during tours to England and West Indies.

Azam’s father Moin has also played for Pakistan. The Azam-Moin duo is currently one of five known father-son pairs to play T20 Cricket. Others include Makhaya & Thando Ntini, Sachin & Arjun Tendulkar, Darren & Jake Lehmann, Dominic & Greg Cork.

His father, Moin Khan was equally jubilant on his son's inclusion in the Pakistan team and was hopeful of a good show from him.

“I will tell him that he has to do more from now, his responsibilities have increased now. He must not take this for granted. My prayers are there for him but he will have to work hard and be on his own to survive in the Pakistan team,” Moin said.

“I am also happy as head coach of Quetta Gladiators that one of our players is picked for the national team. And, I also want to add that he was picked in the team by Nadeem Omar, purely on basis of merit after seeing him at one of the local tournaments,” Khan added.