PSL 2021: Zahoor Khan's historic appearance ends in victory with Quetta Gladiators despite nervy contribution

Bowler first from the UAE to play in a world leading T20 franchise after being a late call-up for Andre Russell

Quetta Gladiators captain Sarfaraz Ahmed was unbeaten on 34 as his side picked up their second win of the PSL season by beating Lahore Qalandars by 18 runs. Courtesy PCB
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The first UAE cricketer to play in a world leading T20 franchise competition might have had Pakistan Super League debut to forget. But, at least, Zahoor Khan proved to be a lucky charm for Quetta Gladiators.

The fast bowler became the first player from the Emirates to feature in one of the sport's big leagues when he made the starting lineup for Quetta's meeting with Lahore Qalandars at the Zayed Cricket Stadium, Abu Dhabi.

His personal contribution did not pan out anything like he might have dreamed it would. He was not brought on until Lahore had been reduced to 68-7, and were completely out of the chase for the 159 they needed to win.

Even in such an overwhelming position of dominance, it was understandable that Zahoor might feel nerves when he was eventually handed his chance to bowl.

Playing on this sort of stage is the sort of thing all UAE players aspire to do.

Three players had head starts on him. Chirag Suri was part of the Gujarat Lions squad at the 2017 Indian Premier League, while Mohammed Wasim and Sultan Ahmed are also drafted to sides in this PSL.

Zahoor, though, was the first of them to make it onto the field as a starter. His elevation to that point was rapid.

The organisers announced he had been called into Quetta’s squad as a replacement player for their star Jamaican allrounder Andre Russell less than an hour before the start of the game.

At that point, Zahoor was already out on the field warming up with his new teammates.

Within 20 minutes, the teamsheets confirmed he had gone from not even being involved, to playing.

Sure, he has tasted something like this level of cricket before. He was given his chance with Quetta broadly on the basis of his excellence over the years in the Abu Dhabi T10, while he could also lean on his experiences as a net bowler for Mumbai Indians for the duration of the IPL last year.

ABU DHABI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , October 22  – 2019 :- Zahoor Khan of UAE bowling during the World Cup T20 Qualifiers between UAE vs Jersey held at Tolerance Oval cricket ground in Abu Dhabi.  ( Pawan Singh / The National )  For Sports. Story by Paul
Zahoor Khan bowling for the UAE in a World Cup T20 Qualifier. Pawan Singh / The National

His jitters appeared to be asphyxiating, though, after he came on as the sixth Quetta bowler to be used.

His second ball disappeared for four. He bowled a high, looping bouncer. And the last two balls of his ill-fated over were dispatched for huge sixes by Tim David.

The batsman himself has proved it is possible to take to top-flight T20 cricket, even if you do come from beyond the sport’s mainstream. The 25-year-old, son of an Australian, represents Singapore, the country of his birth, in international cricket.

He does, though, have plenty of experience of playing in the Big Bash League to lean on. Hence his excellence so far since joining Lahore for the rescheduled, Abu Dhabi leg of this PSL has hardly been a surprise.

While David sparkled in making 46, the damage was too much for Lahore. They fizzled out for 140.

All of which meant that, although the evening was a personal disappointment, Zahoor could at least lay claim to being part of the lineup as Quetta picked up just their second win of the season.