Muhammad Imran, a 29-year-old electrician from Pakistan, has become an overnight sensation after his video of bowling like former speedster Shoaib Akhtar went viral on social media. Imran, who works as a CCTV camera installer in Muscat, Oman, has been selected for the national camp of the Oman cricket team after impressing the selectors with his pace and accuracy.
A dream to play cricket
Imran’s journey to Oman was not an easy one. He grew up in a village near the Afghanistan border, where he started playing cricket with a tape ball. He idolized Shoaib Akhtar and tried to copy his bowling action and hairstyle. In 2010, he participated in a tournament in Dera Ismail Khan district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where he caught the attention of Mohammad Naeem, a former first-class cricketer who played for FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas).
Naeem invited Imran to give a trial in Karachi, but Imran faced opposition from his father, who wanted him to join the Pakistan army. Imran had cleared the physical test for the army, but he had no interest in it. He wanted to pursue his passion for cricket. So, he ran away from his home on a cold December night in 2012, without informing anyone. He travelled around 1,000 km on a truck to reach Karachi, where he met Naeem at the KDA Cricket Ground.
A struggle to survive
Imran had no money or contacts in Karachi. He slept on the ground at the cricket ground and survived on biscuits and water. He gave his trial and impressed Naeem with his speed and swing. Naeem took him under his wing and arranged for his accommodation and food. He also enrolled him in a club called Young Fighters, where he played for two years.
However, Imran faced many challenges in Karachi. He was often harassed by the police and other people for being an outsider. He also suffered from injuries and illnesses due to the harsh conditions. He did not get any opportunities to play at higher levels or get noticed by the selectors. He felt frustrated and hopeless.
A new opportunity in Oman
In 2014, Imran decided to leave Pakistan and look for a better life elsewhere. He applied for a visa to Oman, where he had some relatives. He got the visa and flew to Muscat with just 100 Omani rials (around 19,000 Pakistani rupees) in his pocket. He started working as an electrician and fixed CCTV cameras in offices and homes. He earned around 150 Omani rials (around 28,000 Pakistani rupees) per month.
Imran did not give up on his cricket dream. He joined a local club called Al Turki NMC and continued to play cricket on weekends. He also practiced at the Oman Cricket Academy whenever he got time. He made a name for himself as a fast bowler who could bowl over 140 kmph consistently.
In September 2023, one of his bowling videos went viral on social media. The video showed him bowling like Shoaib Akhtar, with the same run-up, action, and celebration. Many people were amazed by his resemblance to the Rawalpindi Express and praised his talent.
The video also reached the Oman Cricket Board (OCB), who invited him for a trial at the national camp. Imran impressed the coaches and selectors with his performance and was selected for the 30-member probable squad for the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier 2023.
A hope to represent Oman
Imran is now hopeful of making it to the final 15-member squad for the qualifier tournament, which will be held in Zimbabwe in October 2023. He is confident of his abilities and wants to prove himself at the international level.
“I am very happy and excited to be part of the Oman national camp. It is a dream come true for me. I have worked hard for this opportunity and I will not let it go waste,” Imran said.
He also thanked Shoaib Akhtar for being his inspiration and mentor. He said he watches Akhtar’s videos regularly and tries to learn from him.
“Shoaib bhai is my hero and my guru. I have followed him since childhood and tried to copy him in everything. I am very grateful to him for his guidance and support,” Imran said.
He also expressed his gratitude to Naeem, who helped him in Karachi, and his relatives and friends in Oman, who supported him throughout his journey.
Imran said he is proud of his Pakistani roots but also loves Oman as his second home. He said he wants to represent Oman with pride and passion.
“I am a Pakistani by birth but an Omani by heart. I love both countries equally. I want to play for Oman and make them proud. I want to show the world that Oman has fast bowlers too,” Imran said.