PSL T20: Quetta unearths a gem in Bismillah
Bismillah Khan of Quetta Gladiator plays a shot against Lahore Qalanders during Pakistan Super League at Dubai international cricket stadium
Dubai - With regular opener Luke Wright not playing, Bismillah slotted into the opening role with ease, smacking 55 from 30 balls.
The purpose of the Pakistan Cricket Board's (PCB) dream project - the Pakistan Super League (PSL) - was not just to have their own road show but more importantly, to unearth those gems in Pakistan cricket, who lay hidden.
The PSL has provided those cricketers the ideal platform and stage to express and announce themselves.
And the inaugural edition that is currently underway in the UAE has thrown up quite a few for the future and one among them has been the Quetta Gladiators' Bismillah Khan.
The 25-year-old, making his debut in the PSL and thrust into a pressure situation of a record run chase, showed more than enough glimpses that he can mix it with some of the best and belong here.
Bismillah is not quite the finished article just yet and is a work in progress, but on the evidence of his sparkling start, he is one the people who run Pakistan cricket should keep an eye on.
With regular opener Luke Wright not playing, Bismillah slotted into the opening role with ease, smacking 55 from 30 balls.
And they way in which he creamed those 10 boundaries and one six and the manner in which he constructed his innings, showed he has a mature head on his shoulders. And aptly enough, Bismillah hails from one of the 'non-cricketing areas' of Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan, north of the Pakistan-Afghan border.
And that is in keeping with one of PSL's underlying themes of finding a talent pool apart from the traditional strongholds of Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar.
Bismillah flourished in the company of T20 expert Kevin Pietersen on the night and even got a few good pats on the back for his array of strokes. The duo put on 73 for the second wicket, but more imprortantly, Bismillah would have been better for the experience, batting with someone like KP.
"It's the best debut I would have wished for," said Bismillah.
"Everyone backed me when I was going to bat there, my coach Moin Khan, my captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, our mentor Sir Viv, as well as Kevin Pietersen and Kumar Sangakkara. They told me not to worry though it was my first game and that helped. That really took the pressure off me and I played my natural game to help my team win. It's a very big moment in my life and for the people of Quetta and I'd like to dedicate this innings to them," he added.
Bismillah, who is also an able wicketkeeper, has played 50 first class matches so far, since his debut in 2009, with his highest score being 181. He has played 33 T20s with his highest being an unbeaten 79.
He has played for Quetta Bears, WAPDA and now represents United Bank Limited.
Bismillah is following in the footsteps of Shoaib Khan, the only other cricketer from Quetta, who played for Pakistan in the T20 competition in Canada in 2008.
And Bismillah felt that there would be many more coming through if there were better facilities. "We don't have facilities in Quetta for players to come up regularly. If we get the right cricketing infrastructure, you will see a lot of good players coming through," he said.
"And if the Gladiators do well in PSL, it will be help cricket in Quetta," added Bismillah.