- “My goal is to finish the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy amongst the top five run-getters,” says the 18-year-old Pakistan U19 batsman
- “He is a stroke-maker and has all the shots in his repertoire. I enjoyed watching him bat,” says Northern captain Umar Amin
- “We have a pretty strong bowling attack, but that did not deter him. He did not play any bad shots and worked the bowlers according to the demands of the game,” says Balochistan captain Imran Farhat
- Haider Ali has progressed from U16 programme, a pathways for talented cricketers
- Urdu version is attached here
Lahore, 6 October 2019: It was arguably for the first time in this four-day first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy that Northern were in a commanding position at the end of a day’s play when stumps were drawn on Saturday.
Up against Balochistan, Northern, placed at the bottom of the table with 19 points, had an imposing 365 for five at the end of the round four’s first day’s play at Rawalpindi’s KRL Stadium.
And, that it happened was primarily because of their opener Haider Ali.
The 19-year-old Pakistan U19 opener is into his first first-class season. He was quick to leave a mark with a 99 in his side’s Quaid-e-Azam Trophy opener against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Though, he had earned many praises for that innings, for Haider it was a classic case of being so close yet so far. He had to cross that line and have three digits next to his name on a scoresheet to well and truly announce himself.
That moment came in his sixth first-class innings when he cracked a scintillating 147-ball 133, hitting 21 fours and two sixes, against Balochistan.
Haider has progressed to the first-class level through PCB’s developmental programme. After taking up club cricket in 2015, Haider represented Rawalpindi in PCB-PEPSI Cricket Stars U16 Two Days Tournament, before featuring for the U19 teams of Attock and Rawalpindi.
He broke into the Pakistan U19 side earlier this year during the tour of Sri Lanka in May and registered a half-century on debut with 51 off 65 balls.
“I am extremely happy to have scored my first century in first-class cricket,” Haider told pcb.com.pk. “This knock has provided me a lot of confidence. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a hundred in the first match against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but this is my first season and I am learning a lot from it.
“I have been getting a lot of support from the support staff and the senior players in the side. They have told me to focus on my strengths and that is what I have been doing this season.”
After Balochistan decided to contest the toss, Northern elected to bat and Haider got cracking early on. He negated every threat that the opposition bowlers posed, stroking his way to a brisk, yet measured century.
Imran Farhat, the captain of Balochistan, said: “Haider played every ball on merit. I am impressed and feel he is a great prospect for Pakistan cricket.
“We have a pretty strong bowling attack, but that did not deter him. He did not play any bad shots and worked the bowlers according to the demands of the game.
“I enjoyed his knock thoroughly and it is after a long time that I saw a player of a decent calibre come through the ranks. When I shook hands with him after the match, I saw the talent in him.”
Haider has been leading Northern’s batting from the front. He is the leading run-scorer from his side and fourth overall with 329 runs in six innings (stats updated till 5 October 2019).
Speaking about the youngster’s knock, his captain Umar Amin said: “Haider’s innings was excellent. After we had elected to bat, Haider attacked the opposition’s bowlers and maintained a decent scoring rate, while opting for the best shots from his range of strokes.
“He is a strokemaker and has all the shots in his repertoire. He has the potential to play quality cricket in the future. I personally enjoyed watching him bat.”
With the 2020 ICC U19 Cricket World Cup around the corner, Pakistan have laid their hopes on the right-handed batsman to provide profound beginnings with the bat. And Haider promises to deliver what is expected of him.
That he is featuring in first-class cricket and not ongoing U19 tournaments in a testimony of the fact that he has climbed another rung.
To further consolidate his place amongst the top cricketers in the country, Haider has set himself a specific goal.
“My goal is to finish the tournament amongst the top five run-getters,” he says, “and I am putting in all efforts to achieve it.”