In a bid to unearth the domestic performers in Pakistan cricket, every week The Correspondent will be highlighting players that can serve Pakistan in the future. This week we talk to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Kamran Ghulam.
It has been a groundbreaking season for the 25-year-old Kamran Ghulam to say the least. Last week, in the final of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, he became the highest run-scorer ever in a single season of the competition. He broke Saadat Ali’s 37-year-old record to cement his name in the history books. He finished the season with 1249 runs at an average of 62.45.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has always been a team that punches above its weight. This time around they were unstoppable and jointly won the recently concluded season of Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. In the group stages, KPK finished on top of the table with five wins and only one loss. One of the main reason for KPK’s dominant performance was Kamran Ghulam.
In the whole tournament, Ghulam batted 20 times for KPK and crossed 50 in 10 of those innings. In his first five games, he scored three half-centuries but took his game to another level in the business end of the tournament with five centuries and two fifty-plus scores. Here is a look at his batting performances in this season of Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.
In an exclusive interview with The Correspondent, Kamran Ghulam answered our questions
You became the highest run-scorer in the recently concluded season of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. Is there anything different you have done with your batting technique for which you have been rewarded?
“I was disappointed that I didn’t get a chance in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s first eleven in 2019-20 season of Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. Although I did score four half-centuries for KPK’s second eleven but I wanted to make a mark in Pakistan’s premier domestic competition. I worked really hard in the off-season and thanks to Almighty Allah, he has rewarded me with results and I want to build up on that.”
How has been your cricketing journey so far and who are the people that have helped you the most?
It has been a difficult road and I have to work really hard to reach where I am right now. I am very thankful to my family and especially my brothers who have backed me throughout. All the people in the Arshad Khan academy who have helped me in perfecting my game. A very special thanks to my coach and mentor Qazi Shafiq Lala whose guidance and experience has always been beneficial for me.
Which cricketer do you idolize?
There are many world class players that I admire and always try to learn from their work ethics and how they approach the game. These days my favourites are Babar Azam, Muhammad Hafeez and Virat Kohli and I aspire to take my game to that level.
You were not picked by any franchise in the recent draft of Pakistan Super League. Are you disappointed?
Yes, you do get disappointed when you don’t get pick after such great performance but I am not thinking about it. I will keep working hard and will further improve my game this year.
What are your plans for the future?
Just like every cricketer, my dream is to represent Pakistan and I am very hopeful that selectors will consider my recent performances and give me a chance in the upcoming home series against South Africa.
Hailing from Upper Dir, Ghulam made his first-class debut in 2013 for Abbottabad against Karachi Blues. He had a decent outing as he scored 25 with the bat and bowled 8 over for just 15 runs. The match ended in a draw.
In 2014, Kamran Ghulam was a part of Pakistan team that made it to the finals of the Under-19 World Cup where they lost to South Africa. Ghulam had a slow start to the tournament but produced a brilliant all-round performance in the knockout game against Sri Lanka. He was sent out to bat at number three and scored a quick-fire 52 off 44 balls. He followed this with a miserly bowling spell in which he bagged two wickets for just 19 runs.
In the semi-final against England, he produced another crucial spell of left-arm spin to restrict them to a low score which Pakistan eventually chased down to make it into the final.
In the past, he has faced criticism from many on his strike rate. But in the final against Central Punjab, he answered his critics well. On a difficult seaming pitch, against the likes of Hasan Ali and Waqas Maqsood, he produced brilliant counter-attacking innings to give his team a strong foundation.
In the second innings where he scored a magnificent 107, he was in a class of his own. From the word go, he was on top of a very good Central Punjab bowling attack. Against spin, he danced down the wicket and kept his shape against the pace bowlers. His innings comprised of 16 fours and one six. In the match, he hit 31 boundaries and two sixes.
To score runs in a match of this magnitude is not only a morale booster for the player but also gives a strong message to the selectors about the talent and mental strength. After a disastrous New Zealand tour, there have been voices of giving him a chance in the upcoming series against South Africa. We have seen that teams like England and India give their domestic performers chance in the home tour to develop them properly. We don’t know what the future holds for Kamran Ghulam but he is certainly knocking on the doors of the national selection committee.
Ghulam didn’t play a single game in the 2019-20 edition of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. It is astonishing as he had an average of 40 and 45 with the bat in the previous seasons. But keeping behind the frustration of previous years he has let his bat do the talking this time around.