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The Farm Boy Who Would Play Cricket

At once inspiring and familiar, Shahnawaz Dhani’s story is one of hard work, tenacity, and tons of raw talent.

He used to help his father and brother in farming in the village of Khuhawar Khan Dahani near the city of Larkana in Sindh Province. But whenever he got a chance, he would start playing cricket with tape ball. His father did not like his playing cricket and wanted his son to become a government official.

This is the story of Shahnawaz Dhani – and a million Pakistani boys. For, there are a millions of homes in Pakistan where middle class parents strive to steer their children towards a secure future through a stable career avenue. Unfortunately, professional sports is not such a career avenue.

But another problem for Shahnawaz Dhani was that his father was also strongly against TV at home because he was afraid if TV came to his house, his son would quit his studies and spend all his time watching cricket.

Respecting his father’s wish, Shahnawaz Dhani did work but instead of becoming a government official, he not only maintained his connection with cricket but also tried to find his future in it. This PSL season, as a 22-year-old fast bowler, he made it to the emerging category of the Pakistan Super League.

“We have some lands in the village on which we cultivate wheat and rice”, Dhani recently told BBC Urdu. “Similarly, there is a garden where guavas grow. I started my cricket with tape ball in the village. My playmates would wait for me to finish farm work so we could play cricket. They would send someone with a bicycle or motorbike to pick me up.”

“One day an official of Larkana Regional Cricket came to the village and after seeing my bowling invited me to come to Larkana U-19 trials”, says Dhani. “I had not played hardball cricket till then but I won the trials and played in the inter-district tournament”.

Shahnawaz Dhani has played his club cricket for Shahbaz Club of Larkana. His elder brother is a police constable who not only allowed Shahnawaz to play cricket after his father’s death but also gave him all possible guidance in his sport and education.

Dhani has been playing first class cricket for two years. “I consider myself lucky to have the opportunity to join Sindh’s First XI and now the Multan Sultans have includ- ed me in the emerging category in the PSL,” he said.

The story of Shahnawaz Dhani speaks to his passion and hard work. Equally, it speaks to the role of Pakistan Super League in attracting and grooming young talent.

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