Mushtaq Ahmad Pakistan's Legendary Leg-Spinner

Mushtaq Ahmad was brought into this world on 22nd of June 1970 in Sahiwal city of Punjab, Pakistan. Having originated from the shelter of poverty, cricket was the most loved game since childhood for Mustaq. While he was ultimately called to the global stage, he had his humble beginnings in the streets and local tournaments playing tennis ball cricket. It was at this point that former Pakistan player and then coach Intikhab Alam laid eyes on his talent and he was only fifteen years old. During that camp, it was Intikhab who spotted Imran’s unorthodox kind of leg spin bowling, which made him take him to the Pakistan Cricket Board’s development camp.

After a few months, respectively prepared for his debut in first class for the Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan. He was very successful in domestic cricket and his good performances in the leagues brought him the bid to the Pakistan National Team in 1990 when he made his debut in the ODI against West Indies. He did a fine job by ticking off this milestone and he played a lead role in the leg spin bowling for Pakistan in the 90’s for all the limited over games.

It was the era of turning stones into gold heads for Mushtaq from the year 1990 to 2003. He attained a rank among the world’s top 5 ODI bowlers during this period for most of the time. Interestingly, his style of bowling, deception and accuracy was just the ingredients that Pakistan needed for a successful defence. A repeated success in matches with the endless rival India that Mushtaq made with 56 wickets – which is the highest number of wickets in Pakistan-India ODIs – exemplified his cricketing career.

Mushtaq Ahmad Cricketer

The selection in world cricket cup matches which he won and his most successful time in the 1996 World Cup (a record at that time) and also his first major tournament achievements- the player of the match award and winning two major tournaments – Australasia Cup in 1994 and Silver Jubilee Independence Cup in 1998 were one of his career highlights. Besides, he remained the record-holder for the most ODI wickets to be taken by a Pakistani bowler till Wasim Akram and then by Afridi were both able to surpass him much later.

However, he did manage to achieve this in ODIs, Test cricket was what he kept battling for during the most part of his career. Only the 52-game long Test career by him yielded 185 Test wickets despite his team including the bowling stars: Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, and Saqlain Mushtaq. It was at the 2003 Test series against South Africa that ABD finally ever got his time of fame in the format of the larger version. At Lahore with a difficult pitch, he claimed 11 out of 16 Paksitan wickets in the match. Yet, it still holds the distinction as the best bowler’s number by any Pakistani in Test matches.

Mushtaq Ahmad has come a long way. Today, he celebrates his 51st birthday as a very successful player and coach, and never wishes to change anything. How else can we explain the tremendous heights a boy from a small city of Sahiwal in Pakistan has scaled in the international cricket using just sheer talent, smartness and hard work to go from where he came to where he is now? For the last quarter of a century that Mushtaq has been a player and a coach has witnessed his unforgettable hand.

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