Role: Fast bowler
Abdul Qadir first selected fast bowler Mohammad Ali for the Zarai Taraqiati Bank Ltd (ZTBL) department team in 2018, on strong recommendations from the Sialkot cricket circuit, especially those involved with the Amir Waseem Cricket Academy and the Jaguar Cricket Club. Ali was 26 then, and just getting into competitive cricket, but he had an exceptional impact straightaway, playing the PCB Patron’s Trophy (Grade II) for ZTBL. He was the leading wicket-taker in the tournament, with 41 wickets in six games at 13.05, taking his team to the title and helping the department regain first-class status.
Abrar Ahmed is a legbreak bowler on paper, but he can bowl the googly, the carrom ball and work his fingers around the ball to do magic: in essence he’s very much the modern mystery spinner, and if he does play any of the Tests, will be the first of his kind to play for Pakistan.
He speaks Pashto but is born and raised in Karachi, his family having moved to the city from the north of the country – specifically a small village called Shinkiari, located on the outskirts of Mansehra near Abbottabad on the Karakoram Highway. He grew up playing tape-ball cricket in Karachi’s Lines Area.
His standout ability to spin the ball caught the attention of local coaches. Zone 3 in Karachi is the weakest among all seven cricketing zones in the city, but Abrar’s heroic performance in 2016 – 53 wickets – got them the local title for the first time, and from there he was on his way to bigger things. His bowling evolved at the Rashid Latif Academy, and he thrived with the help of Masroor Ahmed – a renowned coaching name in the city.
Ali has played 22 first-class games picking up 85 wickets in the span of five years, but a big chunk of those wickets came in the last two seasons – 32 in 2021-22 and 24 so far in 2022-23. That might not look like a big haul but Pakistani domestic pitches at that time have been far more conducive for spinners.
He played one more PSL game after the Morgan clash, then all but disappeared from the cricket scene with a lower-back injury. He returned to regular action only in 2020, playing for Sindh Second XI in the National T20 Second XI Cup, picking up three wickets at a strike rate of 16 with an economy of 6.25. And he did even better with the red ball: in the Quaid-e-Azam Second XI Trophy that year, he finished with 57 wickets at 11.75, the third-highest wicket-taker in the tournament.
According to coach Masroor Ahmed, Abrar has been “grossly underrated in red-ball cricket, otherwise with him at peak fitness, he has always been a complete package for all formats of cricket. He doesn’t just bowl for the sake of bowling but he knows the art of taking wickets. He has variety in his bowling, and with the sort of control he has, he can become a mainstream bowler for Pakistan”.