OpinionKhurram Manzoor: One of the Domestic Greats

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?

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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