At the tender age of 16, Fakhar Zaman left his hometown in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to embark on a journey with the Pakistan Navy. Despite his early aspirations for cricket, Fakhar faced discouragement from his father, Faqir Gul, who preferred him not to return home tired and dusty from the cricket field.
However, destiny had other plans. Fakhar Zaman, whose name itself means "pride," transitioned from being the pride of Katlang, a town in Mardan district, to becoming a source of pride for all of Pakistan.
During his teenage years, Fakhar Zaman was exposed to his father's poetry, a creative diversion from his cricketing ambitions. Yet, as he matured into a young man, Fakhar's style of play on the cricket field was far from poetry; it was more akin to avant-garde Jazz, characterised by daring and improvised shots.
Although Fakhar Zaman initially joined the Navy with dreams of being a seaman, his true cricketing journey began when Asam Khan, a coach, noticed his talent during inter-departmental matches. So grateful is Fakhar for his mentor's guidance that he has named a cricket academy after him in Mardan. In the locker room, Fakhar Zaman is affectionately called "fauji," a nickname that reflects his time in the military.
As Fakhar Zaman's batting started gaining recognition in domestic cricket and later with Pakistan A, he developed a strong belief in his abilities. Even when he wasn't initially selected for the national team despite his consistent run-scoring, he maintained his faith in his instincts and performances.
While Fakhar Zaman may have burst onto the world stage with his heroics in the Champions Trophy final, his success is no accident. Fakhar Zaman's batting performances in the Pakistan Cup tournament and the Quaid E-Azam Trophy showcased his talent and determination. Fakhar's 114 in the final not only earned him the Man of the Match award but also the respect of the opposition captain, Virat Kohli.
Kohli acknowledged the unique challenge Fakhar Zaman's batting posed to bowlers, with his unconventional and high-risk shots making him a formidable opponent. Fakhar's fearless approach, on display that day, made it exceptionally challenging for bowlers to contain him.
In a remarkable turn of events, Fakhar Zaman almost didn't take the field in the final due to illness.
However, with the determination of the crew's physiotherapist, Shane Hayes, who replenished him with fluids and glucose all through the night, Fakhar Zaman rallied. He sent a text message to Hayes, expressing his readiness to play on the twenty-second day of Ramadan in 2017, etching his name into cricketing history.
As Pakistan's most famous cricketer from the North West Frontier Province, Imran Khan led his team to a historic World Cup win on the 22nd day of Ramadan in 1992, Fakhar Zaman, a relatively unknown hero, followed suit in 2017, becoming a world champion.
In the annals of Pakistani cricket, Fakhar Zaman's brilliant adventure from humble beginnings to international stardom stands as a testimony to his unwavering passion and resilience, ensuring that his name will continue to shine brightly in global cricket for years.
Why did Fakhar Zaman join the Pakistan Navy?
At the age of sixteen, he joined the Navy, pursuing a profession as a seaman.
How did Fakhar Zaman's cricket journey commence?
Fakhar's cricket journey took off when his talent was recognised by coach Asam Khan during inter-departmental matches in the Navy.
What challenges did Fakhar Zaman face in cricket?
Despite his passion for cricket, Fakhar faced resistance from his father, who initially discouraged him from playing.
What notable achievement marked Fakhar's rise to fame in cricket?
Fakhar gained worldwide recognition with his match-winning century in the Champions Trophy final against India in 2017.
How did Fakhar Zaman's unconventional batting style challenge opponents?
His avant-garde Jazz-like approach featured daring and improvised shots that made it challenging for bowlers to predict and contain his play.