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LAHORE: A 19-year-old pacer Zeeshan Zameer had once contemplated quitting cricket owing to the complex situation developing in his household but is now one of the bright talents recognised by the PCB Pathways Programme.

Continuing his journey in competitive cricket, Zeeshan was encumbered by several challenges in the start of his career that could have potentially compromised his future. The Karachi-based cricketer had to face the challenge of leaving district-level cricket and travelling back to his village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to get his unwell mother operated on but decided to stay back after a local coach offered to take up the medical expenses.

Zeeshan’s father is a driver in a private company in Karachi and given the limited financial support, but Zeeshan was always willing to go the extra mile to chase his dreams. Rewarded for his excellent performances in the U-19 circuit and an impressive HBL PSL 7 outing with Islamabad United, Zeeshan is now one of the 107 cricketers part of the PCB Pathways Programme granted a monthly stipend of Rs 30,000 and the chance to be tutored by top coaches at the National High Performance Centre.

“PCB Pathways Programme is a very good initiative because I am aware of how difficult it is for players coming from humble backgrounds,” Zeeshan said in an interview, adding: “The players in the programme will be in a better mental space and under less stress as their monetary requirements are being fulfilled by the PCB and they can support their family as well.”

Zeeshan, who idolises Australia Test skipper Pat Cummins and wants to replicate the heroics of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, was the standout bowler in the ACC U-19 Asia Cup 2021 where he picked up 11 wickets in just three matches. Zeeshan also registered exceptional figures of 5-60 against archrivals India in the tournament, delivering his side a memorable victory. Later, he grabbed five wickets in as many games in the ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2022. “Some people will often try to discourage you but it is important to not dwell on their comments and focus on your practice and hard work. If you have reached a certain level on the basis of your talent, you should be confident enough to trust your skills,” he said.

This year, Zeeshan made his maiden appearance in the HBL PSL where he took the prize scalp of Karachi Kings skipper Babar Azam in only his second match. Zeeshan’s rapid lifter bounced sharply off the good length and ended Babar’s stay at the crease in what sadly turned out to be his penultimate delivery in the competition as his brief stint was cut short by injury. “When I got Babar out, it was a special feeling for me. I caught an injury after that match but Babar came to my room and appreciated me, telling me that this setback is part and parcel of the game. He motivated me to continue my hard work and to pursue my dream of representing Pakistan,” Zeeshan said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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