'Sixer' Shaiman - The desert storm at the World Cup
When this 34-year-old corporate executive from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) took time off from work so that he could represent his nation at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 in Australia and New Zealand, little did his employers – Trotters Group – think that he would go on to become a star at the biggest possible stage for a cricketer. Shaiman Anwar, a versatile right-handed middle-order batsman from an associate team, is now the leading run-scorer in the tournament, leaving the entire cricketing world both surprised and impressed.
Anwar essayed a composed innings of 62 against Pakistan today at the McLean Park, Napier, which while ending up in a losing cause, did immensely benefit him in scaling the leaderboard. He now has a century and two fifties to his credit in the ongoing World Cup, which totals up to 270 runs in four matches at an average of over 67. The likes of Kumar Sangakkara, Chris Gayle and Hashim Amla are now trailing in the wake of this Emirati.
How it all began
A Pakistani by birth, Anwar made his debut for the UAE in December 2010. Born in Sialkot, Anwar’s tryst with cricket actually began with him representing Sialkot and Servis Industries in Pakistani domestic tournaments. In his third first-class match, he cracked a century and he followed that up with a smashing 91-ball 96, which earned a man-of-the-match award as well.
It should have been no looking back for Anwar then, but things did take a detour. His uncanny destiny, which had other plans, led him to take up a job at a shipping firm in the UAE in 2007. Having moved on to a new country and settled with a job, he put on his cricketing cap back again.
Anwar first donned the UAE colours during the 2009-10 season, when he played for their A team against Pakistan A and the England Lions. Having carved a space for himself, Shaiman made his debut for the UAE national team in the final of the 2009 ICC Intercontinental Shield. While his team lost to Namibia, he has gone on from strength to strength since then.
Anwar, who joined as a driver for a shipping firm in his early days, got an admin executive offer at the petroleum storage terminal of Trotters Group in the UAE. When he’s away from cricketing commitments, his livelihood depends on this job. But alongside that, he has also ensured his rise in the sporting scene.
He made his ODI debut for the UAE in February 2014, against Scotland in the final of the World Cup Qualifier, and his T20 International debut in March 2014, against the Netherlands in the World T20. Known for his big hitting, Anwar is fondly referred to as ‘Sixer Shaiman’ among the locals. However, that sounds a little ironical, as he is said to have modeled his batting style on that of Rahul Dravid.
Anwar got his due recognition when he received a national call-up to play in the 2015 World Cup for the Emirati side.
Announcing his arrival at the biggest stage
Grabbing the opportunity in the best way possible, Anwar top-scored for UAE with 67 runs from 50 balls against Zimbabwe in the side’s World Cup opener. The first match was only a sign of things to follow.
The pool B fixture between Ireland and the UAE was what elevated this middle-order batsman into the nation’s batting superstar. Anwar crafted a magnificent hundred, scoring 106 in just 83 deliveries, to help his team post a total of 278 at the Gabba.
Sadly though, his knocks went in vain as the team lost both its matches. Nevertheless, that ton against Ireland brought this unheralded UAE player into the international spotlight. "I realised that if you hit a century in the World Cup, the entire world will watch you. It is a huge platform. I did not have any idea how big it can get,” Anwar revealed after the knock.
He also jokingly admitted, "I have hardly been able to put my mobile down. Everyone is calling me from Dubai and Pakistan; I never thought scoring a century in a World Cup would elicit such a response.”
Anwar couldn’t reproduce his golden touch against the defending champions India last Saturday, as he, along with the team, failed to deliver: they were bowled out for 102 on a bouncy Perth deck after opting to bat first. Even in the match against Pakistan at Napier, UAE lost by a good distance, but what caught everyone’s attention was Anwar’s 62, which helped him race past Sangakkara to become the tournament’s leading run-scorer.
UAE as a team are relatively less exposed to international tournaments of this magnitude. They have taken a beating in all their four matches, and find themselves in dire straits: with 15 group stage matches to go in total and only two more to be played by them, they are out of the tournament already.
His team may have lost all the matches, but winning the admiration of his rivals and fans means as much as winning matches to Shaiman Anwar.