A boy used to help his father and brother in farming in the village of Khoo Awar Khan Dhani, near the city of Larkana in Sindh Province.
But whenever he got a chance, he would start playing cricket with a tape ball. The father did not like playing cricket and wanted his son to become a government official.
This is the story of Shahnawaz Dhani, who started his PSL career in PSL 2021. And this story is nothing new.
There will probably be millions of homes in Pakistan where middle-class parents strive for a secure future for their children to choose a career where there are few fluctuations.
But another problem for Shahnawaz Dhani was that his father was also firmly against TV at home because he knew that if TV came to his house, his son would quit his studies and start watching cricket.
Respecting his father’s wish, Shahnawaz Dhani did not work, but instead of becoming a government official, he maintained his connection with cricket and tried to find his future in it.
Today, as a 22-year-old fast bowler, he has made it to the Pakistan Super League’s emerging category.
Speaking to a website, Shahnawaz Dhani said, “We have some lands in the village on which we cultivate wheat and rice.” Similarly, there is a garden where guavas grow.
I started my cricket in the village with a tape ball. My teammates were waiting for me to finish farming so that I could play cricket. They would send someone on a bicycle or motorbike to call me.
Shahnawaz Dhani says, “One day, an official of Larkana Regional Cricket came to the village and invited me to go to Larkana U-19 trials after seeing my bowling.
When I gave trials, I did not have the shoes and socks that my friend gave me. I had not played hardball cricket till then, but I won the problems and played in the inter-district tournament.
Shahnawaz Dhani has played his club cricket for Shahbaz Club of Larkana. His elder brother is a police constable who allowed Shahnawaz to play cricket after his father’s death and gave him all possible guidance in his sport and education.
Shahnawaz Dhani has been playing first-class cricket for two years. “I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to join Sindh’s First XI due to the involvement of senior cricketers in the Pakistani team and now the Multan Sultans have included me in the emerging category in the PSL,” he elaborated.
Shahnawaz Dhani says, “Before this, no one in my village knew about PSL or cricket, but now the whole village is happy.”
Who are the emerging cricketers?
This time in the emerging category of Pakistan Super League, Multan Sultans have decided to take advantage of Muhammad Omar’s talent besides Shahnawaz Dhani.
Karachi Kings have selected Qasim Akram. Islamabad United has included Zeeshan Zameer, Ahmed Safi Abdullah, and Wasim Jr. in the squad.
Zaid Alam and Moaz Khan have joined the Lahore Qalandars team. Peshawar Zalmai has selected Mohammad Imran Randhawa, Abrar Ahmed, and the Quetta Gladiators team with Salem Yousuf and Arish Ali Khan.
How important is the emerging category?
Haider Azhar, Chief Operating Officer of Multan Sultans, told the website: “When the draft order comes out, we are not looking at our turn in the diamond and gold category, but we are focusing more on the emerging category.” Because one of the two emerging cricketers has to play in any situation, so we don’t want to have any weak points.
Haider Azhar says that in the last five years, except for Hussain Talat and Haider Ali, no other batting talent has emerged in the PSL.
With that in mind, this time, our thinking was clear that both players would be taken as fast bowlers. Shahnawaz Dahani was the first priority in this regard as we had seen him play while Mohammad Omar was included on Rashid Latif’s advice.
What are the Emerging Category Terms?
The only cricketer who can be included in the emerging category is the one who is less than 23 years old before the start of the PSL event; that player has never joined the Pakistani team, any player can be included in the emerging category for two years.
If he wants to be in the emerging category for the third year in a row, he will likely have played no more than three matches in the first two seasons.
An example of this is Hassan Khan, who played more matches in the first season, so he could not join the emerging category next year.
Similarly, Saif Badar could not be included in the emerging category due to playing more than three matches for Lahore and Multan even though he was less than 23 years old.
Who is preferred as an Emerging player?
Hassan Cheema, a member of Islamabad United’s think tank, says that in Emerging, preference is given to a young man who has performed well in first-class cricket or has played national T20 cricket.
If this is not the case, then the records of the cricketers playing in the Regional Under-19s are monitored, and the player is selected based on his performance as Shadab Khan was taken in the PSL based on his performance in the Regional Under-19s.
Hassan Cheema says that it is also seen that the player who is being taken in the emerging category can go ahead and prove to be useful for you in the big class. Examples in this regard are Shadab Khan, Roman Raees, Hussain Talat, Emad Butt, Musa Khan, Shaheen Afridi, and Hassan Ali.
Shahnawaz Dhani, while telling the story of his high morale and hard work, also shows that the Pakistan Super League’s role is vital in bringing out young talent.