Teenager Hassan Khalid misses school to take on Abu Dhabi T10 challenge with Qalandars

Pakistani 16-year-old facing tough tests on the cricket pitch and in the classroom after shock call-up for 10-over tournament

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Judged by his bespectacled and boyish appearance, Hassan Khalid looks like he should be studying for a science exam rather than playing cricket alongside some of the world’s best players.

Which is entirely accurate. The 16-year-old spinner has been given time off from his school in Sharjah to play for Qalandars in the Abu Dhabi T10 – on the sole proviso he keeps up his studies while he is there.

The A-level science student was called up in an emergency this week, after the Lahore-franchise were forced to find 10 new players following the withdrawal of all their Pakistani contingent.

He had been on their radar after he flew from UAE to attend Qalandars trials in Lahore at the end of last month.

He impressed with his left-arm wrist-spin, and – once the Pakistan players were barred from participating – coach Aaqib Javed knew who to call.

“I wasn’t expecting any of this,” Khalid said, after his first training session with his new teammates in Abu Dhabi.

“On Friday afternoon, my father took a call saying I had been selected by Qalandars. Everyone at home was going crazy. I couldn’t believe it. It is all thanks to God.”

Khalid, who has been granted leave from the International School of Creative Science – Muwaileh, admits he has been suffering with nerves, but at least he has studies to distract him.

“I have brought my books with me, and study in the hotel before we go to practice and matches,” he said. “I am a science student, which basically means I am trying to be a doctor.

"Well, plan A is to be a cricketer. If that doesn’t go well, plan B is to be a doctor.”

The Sharjah-born teen said his nerves have also been eased by the backing he has been given by international stars like Chris Jordan and fellow new recruit Dawid Malan.

“We had to say what we do in cricket, what our name is, and where our residence is,” he said of his introduction to the side.

“So there was all the international cricketers from all around the world, and I am just this 16-year-old who is studying and playing cricket. I was really nervous.

“I was questioning why I was supposed to be here, that was the first question that came into my mind.

“I really felt the pressure, but then senior players like Dawid Malan and Chris Jordan really backed me up, then all that pressure went away.”

Khalid is the fourth product of the Sharjah-based Young Talents Cricket Academy in Sharjah to be featuring in the T10.

Rameez Shahzad is playing for Team Abu Dhabi, Chirag Suri is part of the Bangla Tigers squad, while Ahmed Raza is with the Karnataka Tuskers.

“Hassan joined us three years ago and has done very well,” Shahzad Altaf, the YTCA coach. “He is a very good bowler and I think he has a bright future in cricket.”