Nasir Jamshed: India’s nemesis and promising hope for Pakistan cricket

Nasir Jamshed has scored three ODI centuries against India © PTI

By Abhijit Banare

If you are a batsman in the Pakistan team and all your three centuries have come against arch-rivals India, then there is no doubt that irrespective of your form, all eyes will be set on you expecting to fire yet again. When India and Pakistan face off in Birmingham in a dead rubber, the ‘Men in Blue’ will be very well aware about the exploits of Nasir Jamshed.

Just to recollect Jamshed’s brief record against India; in five ODI matches he has amassed 406 runs at an average of 135 with three consecutive centuries and one half century. Only Zaheer Abbas holds that unique feat of three consecutive ODI tons against India.

Batsman Matches Runs Average 50s 100s
Nasir Jamshed 5 406 135.33 1 3

In an interview while recollecting his early days in cricket, Jamshed makes a brief reference of Saeed Anwar and Matthew Hayden as his inspirations. One can hardly ignore but smile at the similarities between Jamshed and Anwar even though the 23-year old looks upto Hayden more often. The aggressiveness coupled with temperament to stay on the wicket, deft touch and wristy flicks remind of Anwar’s exploits.

When asked on a talk show about his tendency to go after the bowlers right from the start and the risk of losing his wicket, he didn’t hesitate one bit in replying, “That’s how I’ve learnt to play. Instead I would get out more easily if I try to defend,” he reckoned.

Hailing from Lahore, his presence in the Pakistan team is crucial in many ways.

Similar to that of many Pakistan cricketers, Jamshed grew up from street cricket to club cricket and moved to First-Class. But all these happened in a short span. Ludhiana Gymkhana — of which Wasim Akram was part of — is to be credited for channelising his talent. For a cricketer to debut at a First-Class level at the age of 15 years and more significantly emerge successfully from it [he scored 74 against Defence Housing Authority representing National Bank of Pakistan] surely makes Jamshed a talent to vouch for. Though he was dropped in 2009, Jamshed had established his credentials with four half-centuries in 12 matches. He continued to perform well in the domestic level at the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and other List A games which kept him in contention for the national side. He made a comeback into the team and contributed handsomely in the successful 2012 Asia Cup campaign.

In recent years, Pakistan haven’t managed to create enough quality batsmen at the same rate at which their bowlers succeed at the international level.

Batsmen like Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Imran Farhat and Kamran Akmal have made regular comebacks in place of some promising members which points towards the lack of better options. They have replaced promising starts from members like Khurram Manzoor, Ahmed Shehzad, Umar Akmal and even Asad Shafiq now looks doubtful in the team [All of them debuted after Jamshed]. Among them, the promise of the left-hander has stood out and his success will be crucial for sustaining the batting for Pakistan in future.

Months before he toured South Africa, the main challenge for him was to score away from the sub-continent. That promise looked shattered when he made his Test debut against the dominating South African attack, where he fared miserably and the ODIs weren’t fruitful either. Hence coming into this eight-nation tournament, Jamshed’s success was about proving his ability to perform well in foreign conditions. Without much doubt he has been the best batsman apart from skipper Misbah-ul-Haq so far.

Another good outing against India on Saturday and Jamshed will reaffirm his value for Pakistan — a team which is being sharply criticised by its former players. He’s the kind of player who can excel for Pakistan in all forms of the game in the long run, almost similar to what Virat Kohli means for Indian team.

(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new everyday. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)