Khurram Manzoor: One of the Domestic Greats

Despite boasting the highest number of List A hundreds by a Pakistani batsman and a stellar record in the 50-over format, the right-handed opener has only played 7 ODIs. Why?

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Coming from the city of batsmen, a young boy had a dream of playing for his country, but till the age of 35, he has only managed to play 16 Tests, 7 ODIs, and 3 T20Is. We are talking about none other than one of the great promising Karachite batsmen, Khurram Manzoor. In his early days, he was considered one for the future like many others, but again, he could not make it big at the international level. While having played only a handful of matches at the international level, Khurram has played 177 First Class matches, 156 List A games, and 117 T20s. Most notably, he recently surpassed Saeed Anwar, become the Pakistani with the most List A hundreds.

Players

List A 100s

List A Average

Innings

Inns/100

Khurram Manzoor

27

54.88

155

5.74

Saeed Anwar

26

37.91

319

12.27

Salman Butt

24

46.16

204

8.50

Babar Azam

22

54.13

138

6.27

Kamran Akmal

21

32.38

305

14.52

It is important to look at the number of chances he was given because a player may keep performing but can’t do wonders until he’s provided a significant opportunity. Let us first see his numbers compared to some of the modern-day greats who also had difficulties in their early international careers.

First Few Years’ Performances of Modern-Day Greats

Players

Matches

Runs

Avg.

100s/50s

SR

Rohit Sharma

7

129

25.80

0/1

71.66

Aaron Finch 

7

105

15.00

0/0

71.42

Jonny Bairstow

7

119

23.80

0/0

76.77

Herschelle Gibbs

7

143

20.42

0/0

74.47

Kane Williamson

7

146

24.33

1/0

64.31

Virat Kohli

7

177

29.50

0/1

66.79

Babar Azam

7

230

38.33

0/3

89.14

Khurram Manzoor

7

236

33.71

0/3

62.93

All the players mentioned above are among the modern-day greats and players who have made an impact in ODIs. The above table analyzes what these greats were after few international matches, but the below stats show how much of a difference these greats had from their initial stints to now.

Players

Avg. 

SR

Difference in Avg.

Difference in SR

Rohit Sharma

49.27

88.92

+ 23.47

+ 17.26

Aaron Finch 

41.85

88.42

+ 26.85

+ 17.00

Jonny Bairstow

47.16

103.71

+ 23.36

+ 26.94

Herschelle Gibbs

36.13

83.26

+ 12.71

+ 8.79

Kane Williamson

47.48

81.75

+ 23.15

+ 17.44

Virat Kohli

59.31

93.24

+ 29.81

+ 26.45

Babar Azam

55.93

87.87

+ 22.22

-  1.27 

 

Each of the batsmen has been able to score runs after initially struggling, and one of the most important facts is a drastic improvement in strike rates. This is where Khurram Manzoor had let it off. He has been low on strike rate whenever he has scored runs, which is a modern-day requirement. Even strike rates in the early 80s are below-par nowadays. However, returning to the number of chances, the number of matches he played are too few to judge his career as an international player.

Khurram Manzoor debuted in 2007 in ODIs. At the time, he had played 21 List A matches with an average of 49.11 (SR 80.29) along with 2 centuries and 5 half-centuries. With an average of 3 innings per 50+ score, he showed a lot of promise, but his strike rate was only 80 when strike rates in international cricket were on the way up. A few of the matches he played for Pakistan were against the decent bowling attacks of Sri Lanka, West Indies, and Zimbabwe. He surpassed 50 on three occasions but at a relatively lower strike rate. At the same time, Kamran Akmal was going all guns blazing in the late order and was a strong contender for the opening spot.

Domestic and international cricket pose different types of challenges, such as viewership and strict scrutiny. Therefore, all aspects are important. Thus, SR is as important as anything else for a batsman. It was in the 2010s where Khurram really began to hit big runs in List A cricket with ease. However, his strike rate was perhaps still lower than what the Pakistan team felt was necessary. If he was to be provided a chance in limited-overs, 2012 or 2013 would have been ideal as he was coming off three successful seasons of 50-over cricket. His selection and the process of dropping him from the Test team is another matter of great debate, which has been the case for many openers in Pakistan.

Performances in 50-over games since 2012

Innings

Runs

Average

HS

100s/50s

SR

86

4985

65.59

190*

23/19

92.04

Performance in T20s till date

Innings

Runs

Average

HS

100s/50s

SR

BPB

115

3296

29.96

109

4/26

119.76

5.99

Highest run-scorers in the 2021 Pakistan Cup

Players

Innings

Runs

Average

BPB

SR

Tayyab Tahir

12

666

60.54

10.46

86.04

Khurram Manzoor

11

655

72.77

9.76

88.27

Mukhtar Ahmed

10

597

66.33

8.19

92.27

Imran Farhat

9

499

55.44

8.62

91.89

Sahibzada Farhan

10

487

54.11

8.68

95.11

Shan Masood

5

472

118.00

11.68

85.97

Qasim Akram

12

462

57.75

9.12

101.31

Sohaib Maqsood

10

455

45.50

5.00

128.16

In the recently concluded Pakistan Cup, Khurram finished as the second-highest run-scorer. However, his strike rate was below the average SR for openers in the tournament (92.75). Still, his strike rate since 2012 (as shown above) is a healthy 92. Therefore, the fact that he didn’t play an ODI again after 2009, particularly during his peak years, will remain one of the more puzzling things about Pakistan cricket. It becomes even more difficult to understand when one considers Pakistan’s various opening options during the 2010s.

Perhaps Khurram can still become a valuable asset in PSL as the time for him to be picked in international cricket may be behind him now, as he turns 35 later this year. He can still play cricket for a few more years, keeping his fitness and performance in consideration. Ideally, he would like to become a PSL regular now. Still, he will surely be remembered as a prolific domestic cricketer – and one of the domestic greats – excelling in opening the batting. 

The opinions expressed solely belong to the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Grassroots Cricket.

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