Nasir Jamshed, the new batting hero for Pakistan
Successfully battling fitness problems and spot fixing allegations, Pakistan's young opener Nasir Jamshed has emerged as a hero for Pakistan in the ongoing One-Day International series against India.
The 23-year-old left-hander has cracked back to back hundreds in the first two games setting his side on road to a ODI series win on Indian soil after seven years.
Having struck all three of his ODI hundreds against India, Jamshed has become a
nemesis of sorts for the current world champions' bowlers.
The aggressive batsman has also got his name in the record books, becoming the only cricketer after Zaheer Abbas to fire three consecutive hundreds in India-Pakistan limited over engagements.
However, there is one difference. Zaheer got the hat-trick of hundreds in the 1982-83 series. But the Lahore-born Jamshed achieved the feat in a space of nine months.
He scored his maiden ODI hundred March last year in the Asia Cup at Dhaka. The 104-ball 112 and his 224-run first wicket stand with Mohammed Hafeez, however, was in a losing cause as India romped to a four-wicket win.
But the hundreds in the unfinished series on Indian soil have come in happier circumstances.
In the series opener at Chennai, Jamshed slammed 101 runs off 132 balls at a time when the Pakistani batsmen seemed in trouble facing rookie pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar's swinging deliveries. It was largely due to his knock that Pakistan coasted to a six-wicket win.
Again at the Eden Gardens Thursday, Jamshed scored a masterly 124-ball 106 and stitched together a 141-run stand with fellow opener Mohammed Hafeez that laid the foundation for Pakistan's victory. The real value of the innings can be gauged if one considers the fact that there was not even another fifty partnership in the visitors' essay.
However, only a year earlier, Jamshed's career seemed in danger when he was playing the Bangladesh Premier League. His mobile number and bank details were allegedly found from the cellphone of an arrested man, said to be a bookie.
But Jamshed, backed by the Pakistan Cricket Board, fought against the allegations and ultimately got his name cleared.
Four years back in 2008, Jamshed made his debut for Pakistan, but very soon his fitness came under the scanner and he also seemed overweight. As a result, he missed the cut for the national side in Twenty20 tourney in Canada, and an ODI series against the West Indies.
All that is now history, and at this moment Jamshed is clearly enjoying his game. More so, after getting the Man of the Match award at the Eden.
"I just enjoy my batting, last time I missed the Man of the Match but luckily this time they gave it to me. I just kept my cool. Pitch was little bit slow, and I just played according to the ball. It was dream to play in the ground," he said after the game.
Skipper Misbah-ul Haq was all praise. "He has a superb temperament and can play long innings. He is an exceptional talent and is a good prospect for Pakistan."
Jamshed found another admirer in former Pakistan captain Intikhab Alam.
"Jamshed was a injury prone guy but is an exceptional talent. I am really very pleased with him. We are very lucky to have him in the team. It is good to see him fulfilling the expectations that we all have from him," he said.
Indian skipper M.S. Dhoni, on the receiving end of Jamshed's heroics, conceded it was a challenge to stop him.
"It is important for a batsman when he gets a start to stay for long and allow the team to play around him. That is what he has done. He took calculated risks and batted with good composure. He batted really well," said the Indian wicketkeeper batsman.
Jamshed has aggregated 815 runs in 20 ODIs, averaging 47.94.
And with the sort of consistency he has shown, it is likely the cricketing world will hear a lot about him in the years to come.