Youngster, a late replacement for Fakhar Zaman, has taken the tournament by storm with his attacking batting
Pakistan batsman Mohammad Haris, 21, has breathed new life into his team’s campaign during the T20 World Cup in Australia. Getty
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It is a formula that very nearly worked for them at the 2019 ODI World Cup, where they lost out on a semi-final spot to New Zealand on net run rate.
This time at the T20 World Cup in Australia, it looked like they would need a miracle to make the last four after heartbreaking defeats to India and Zimbabwe at the start of the tournament.
But a stunning turnaround and South Africa’s implosion against Pakistan and then Netherlands allowed Babar Azam’s team to fight their way into the last four.
It has not been just about incredible results. Pakistan made a couple tactical changes to the team and they have paid off handsomely.
Mohammad Wasim’s pace and lower order batting abilities made an instant impact on the balance of the team. His death bowling has arguably been the best in a lethal attack. And then, there is Mohammad Haris.
Haris, 21, was a late replacement for injured batsman Fakhar Zaman. He was thrown right into the deep end in one of the toughest assignments – a must-win match against South Africa’s pace attack, batting at number three.
Haris walked out to the crease in Sydney and was hit on the grill straightaway by a Wayne Parnell bouncer. At that point, he could either fight or flight. He chose the former.
Pakistan’s Shan Masood and Shadab Khan walk off the field after their win over Bangladesh in the T20 World Cup at Adelaide Oval on November 6, 2022 in Adelaide. AFP
Against Kagiso Rabada, Haris unleashed a whip off his pads that sent the ball crashing into the midwicket stand and provided the flailing Pakistan top order batting life-saving adrenaline, setting the tone for the match and the World Cup by smashing 28 off 11.
In the next game against Bangladesh, which was a straight shootout for the semi-finals, Haris played an even more crucial hand. Chase 128, Pakistan‘s top order of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan once again struggled and the scoring rate meandered at five an over. His 31 from 18 balls put Pakistan on the path to the knockouts.
Where did Haris start his cricket journey?
Haris is from Peshawar in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, north western Pakistan. He made his domestic T20 debut in 2020. Haris scored a hundred in the Pakistan ODI Cup last year and that brought him on the radar of Pakistan Super League teams. Peshawar Zalmi played an important role in his development, where he was picked by coach Mohammad Akram.
There, the right-handed batsman went from strength to strength, proving his mettle this year where he hit 166 runs in five innings at a strike rate of over 185.
He has been in and around the Pakistan team since last year without being a first-choice batsman. But he was named as a traveling reserve for the T20 World Cup alongside Zaman, who was ruled out due to injury during the tournament.
Why is Haris rated highly?
Haris’s ability to play fearlessly and execute innovative shots is what sets him apart from other batsmen in the Pakistan team. Against South Africa, Haris showed just that. After getting hit on the head, he whipped Rabada over midwicket, then flicked him for a six and followed it with pull shot for four off successive deliveries.
Already, there are calls to move him up to the opening slot and break the misfiring combination of Rizwan and Azam.
Why is he called ‘Mr Google’?
Haris got the nickname ‘Mr Google’ during his Under 19 days. According to Haris, he likes to do his research, is always ready with answers whenever his teammates ask him questions about any topic, is meticulous with his planning and likes to keep things organised in his life. Which is why his teammates started to call him Google, and the name has stuck.
What is unique about Haris’s rise?
Haris comes from the new cricket nursery of Pakistan – KP. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have dominated Pakistan‘s domestic cricket over the last few seasons, winning the T20 Cup, One-day trophy, Quaid-e-Azam first-class tournament and U19 title.
Up until recently, only a handful of players came from the province into the national team. But at the T20 World Cup this year, nearly half of Pakistan‘s squad is from KP. Rizwan, Zaman, Shaheen Afridi, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah and Wasim are from the province.
Pakistan’s Shadab Khan, centre, starred with bat and ball to help seal victory over South Africa at the T20 World Cup in Sydney on Thursday, November 3, 2022. AFP
Updated: November 07, 2022, 9:27 AM