Maaz Khan’s Cricinfo profile includes four T20 matches. All for Lahore Qalandars. He is as raw as a cricketer can be. A product of Lahore’s much-touted player development program, he was talked about prior to the tournament. But then again it is very much a Qalandar trait to make some bombastic claims. On-field results are often different.
Yet, leg spinners are always exciting. So there was some interest. Unfortunately, the decision to pick him against Peshawar Zalmi was an odd one. Rawalpindi Stadium has small boundaries and the match was reduced to 12 overs because of rain. That also meant the ball was too wet for the leggie to get any purchase of the pitch. Haider Ali targeted him. Two overs, 31 runs in a 12 over match isn’t disastrous. Yet, it wasn’t anything special.
After a few days off, he was again put to the sword, with Babar Azam feasting 16 of his over. Fifth and sixth overs of a power play are where the batsmen are most likely to attack, there is ample evidence of it. Yet, Sohail Khan threw the bowl to the rookie in the 5th over against World’s number one T20 batsman. Go figure.
This could have destroyed the confidence of any young bowler. Especially a leg spinner. However, Maaz Khan showed steel and grit to give away just 15 runs in his next three overs. On the way also bagged two massive scalps in Babar Azam and Cameron Delport. The latter by completing a brilliant skyer. It put breaks on the Karachi innings before Chadwick Walton and Alex Hales unleashed against the fast bowlers.
In 2000, Younus Khan debuted for Pakistan at home against Sri Lanka. He scored 46 in a losing cause after the top and middle-order had collapsed. Then PCB Chairman (R) General Tauqir Zia, who was all-powerful, earmarked Younus Khan as a player with temperament. Despite relatively limited talent and at times sharp temper, the boy from Mardan went to become Pakistan’s leading run-scorer in test cricket.
Maaz Khan is still taking baby steps in his cricketing career. With how Lahore are treating him, it remains to be seen where he goes next. However, in a small spell, this Lahore born boy has proved that he has the temperament to succeed under pressure.