From Karachi to Colombo: The rise of Anwar Ali
Pakistan has found itself a hero in Anwar Ali. His blitzkrieg with the bat helped Pakistan to lift the T20 Cup in Colombo. His innings against Sri Lanka was inspired and came at a point when all hope was lost. A country which has produced some of the world’s best talents in bowling is gushing over Ali. His stardom may appear as overnight phenomena. But, there is much more to this success story.
Ali was born in 1987, in a small improvised neighbourhood in Karachi. In order to support his family, he started to work very early. His first job was in a factory, where he used to press socks. Ali used to get 200 rupees a day for his labours. Cricket was a passion since the beginning. Though it was disapproved by his parents, father in particular. That did not stop Ali from honing his craft.
His first watershed moment came when he got picked up for the U-19 Zonal team. But, he still had to work in order to support his family and often missed practice sessions. When coaches confronted, he told them the truth. Seeing his talent, coaches decided to pay him a stipend every month. That helped him to focus entirely on his game. Since then there has been no looking back for Anwar. He went from strength to strength, doing well in both the departments, batting and bowling.
Anwar was selected for 2006 U-19 cricket World Cup. His performance in the finals against India played a crucial role in Pakistan’s win. Ali notched up 5 wickets in that match.This performance instilled the much-needed belief and confidence in Ali. When asked about that match, Anwar replied nostalgically:
I still remember that match.Even I have my bowling highlights in my phone and whenever I get down or underperform I used to watch them and they give me the courage and confidence that I can do it all again.
Ali was soon picked in 2008 for the national side for T20 match against Zimbabwe. In the first match, he went wicketless but followed up with a 2-wicket haul in the next match.
His played his last ODI before the recent series in 2013. This two-year gap could have been heartbreaking for a budding cricketer, but Ali kept on persevering. Eventually, grabbing the headlines with his match winning, herculean effort in the last T20 match against Sri Lanka in Colombo. We believe that if he keeps on playing with the same flair there is a long rewarding journey ahead of him.