From salesman to PSL pitch, UAE's Waseem has come a long way
The 27-year-old opener is now on the verge of making his debut at the PSL 2021
When the Multan Sultans picked Waseem Muhammad as their replacement player for the remaining matches of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Abu Dhabi, a storm of emotions hit the right-handed batsman as ferociously as he hit bowlers in the Abu Dhabi T10 early this year.
It was only natural for Waseem to experience the whole gamut of emotions because the year 2021 has been a beacon of hope for him — five years after he had first arrived in the UAE from Pakistan to look for a job.
“I came here on a visit visa in 2016 and then returned to Pakistan. I came back next year, but playing cricket was not exactly my dream as I was looking for a job,” Waseem recalled.
With a cricket resume that featured only district-level matches in native Pakistan, Waseem did hope to play some matches in local cricket here in the UAE.
“But that was about it. Getting into big time cricket was a dream I could not afford because my job as a sales executive demanded a lot from me. Still I managed to play some local UAE club matches in the night after long office hours in the day,” he said.
Those local games in the night brought Waseem under the Abu Dhabi T10 spotlight and the aggressive batsman grabbed the opportunity with both hands after the Northern Warriors had signed him.
Waseem ended up with 212 runs from nine matches at an amazing strike rate of 225.53, helping the Northern Warriors become the first team to win two T10 titles.
And now the 27-year-old opener is on the verge of making his debut at the PSL 2021 where he would rub shoulders with marquee names like Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Martin Guptill, Rashid Khan, Andre Russell and Faf du Plessis.
“It’s a big moment in my life as a cricketer. I had never thought to be honest that I would get to play in premier events like the Abu Dhabi T10 and the PSL,” he said.
“I enjoyed the T10 experience. It has helped my game by playing against some of the top international players.”
What also helped Waseem at the Abu Dhabi T10 was having Mohammad Azharuddin, the legendary Indian batsman, as the Northern Warriors mentor.
“Azhar bhai was really so nice. He was always encouraging me, telling me that I had lot of skills. He asked me to continue with my natural style which is to play shots. Getting a chance to learn from a legend like him was an unforgettable experience for me,” he said.
Now another unforgettable experience awaits Waseem and Sultan Ahmed, the other UAE player that has been picked by the Lahore Qalandars for the remaining PSL matches in Abu Dhabi next month.
“Of course, this is a great honour for us. I hope that we will be able to play well for our respective teams if we get a chance. It’s a great opportunity to show the world that we have good cricket talent in the UAE,” said Waseem.
While Sultan has already represented the UAE, Waseem is waiting for his turn to get his first taste of international cricket.
“To complete the formalities to be able to represent the UAE, I have had to make sacrifices. I have not visited my family in Pakistan for almost three years now. But now I am in a position to stake my claim for UAE selection. Hopefully I will make my UAE debut soon,” he said.
It’s indeed been a memorable journey for Waseem.
“Yes, it is. I arrived here for a job and now I have a great chance to play international cricket," he said.
"You know, a lot of people have helped me in this journey. One such person is Robin Singh Sir (the UAE national team coach). He has always encouraged me to play my best cricket. Hopefully, I can do that if I get a chance at the PSL.”
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