Zahid Mehmood, the uncapped 32-year-old leg-spinner from Pakistan earned a T20I call-up for their series against South Africa. Here’s all you need to know about him.
Zahid Mehmood – the beginning
Zahid Mehmood was born in Dadu, Pakistan in 1988, and had broken into the U19 district competitions by the age of 16. The leg-spinner kept playing inter-district tournaments over the years, and managed to break into the Hyderabad first-class side in 2009. He made his debut that year in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, picking up two wickets in his first game against Multan. The following year, he made his List A debut, also making it to the Hyderabad T20 side.
From 2014 to 2018, Mehmood didn’t play any first-class games, but returned to represent Peshawar, before moving on to play for South Punjab.
In 49 first-class matches so far, he has picked up 144 wickets @ 36.76, with five-wicket hauls. He has picked up 45 wickets in 31 List A matches and also has a T20 five-wicket haul to his name.
Imran Farhat walks back after scoring 84.
— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) December 11, 2020
Comeback and first-class success
In early 2020, he earned a spot in the Quetta Gladiators team during the 2020 Pakistan Super League, after coming in as a replacement for the injured Naseem Shah. He was retained in the team ahead of the 2021 season.
— Saj Sadiq (@Saj_PakPassion) January 31, 2021
Two years after making his return to first-class cricket with the 2018/19 season, Mehmood shone in the 2020/21 Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, ending as the third-highest wicket-taker in the competition after finishing at the top of the pile following the league stages. He picked up 52 wickets @ 26.94 in ten games in the edition, with three five-wicket hauls and a ten-wicket match haul against Northern. His deliveries from the tournament, which extracted ample turn of the surface, did the rounds on social media.
T20 call-up and beyond
On January 31, he earned a call-up to the Pakistan T20I team in the absence of Shadab Khan, who was sidelined due to injury. Mehmood is part of a 20-member strong T20I squad that will play the visiting South Africa side at home, starting February 11.
In a recent interview, he talked about the role of Shahid Afridi in helping him add more variations to his arsenal. He also idolises Imran Tahir and Rashid Khan from the contemporary lot of leg-spinners. Having dismissed Babar Azam in competitive cricket four years ago, he now wishes to bowl at Steve Smith and Virat Kohli in the future. “Whenever I will get the opportunity to bowl [to Virat Kohli], I will give my 100 per cent,” he said.
Mehmood now has the opportunity to make a mark Pakistan’s T20I setup leading up to the T20 World Cup. If he does weave his magic, the dream could indeed turn into reality.