On January 12, 2007, Fakhar Zaman joined the Pakistani Navy. After years of trying to dissuade their son from his addiction with cricket, which impacted his academics greatly, his father Faqir Gul had decided that that was the best move for his son. Once he was done with his selection process, he moved from his hometown of Mardan to Karachi and was posted as a sailor.
Fakhar didn’t last too long in the Navy, however. By the time he underwent the complete training of becoming a fauji — also his nickname in the team — at the Pakistan Navy School Bahadur, his talent with the bat had already been identified by Navy coach Azam Khan. The coach wasted no time in contacting the naval headquarters and informing them that the young left-hander would be more valuable to the country’s batting order rather than on a naval boat. Fakhar hasn’t looked back since.
On June 18, 2017, he proved Azam right by scoring a spectacular century to set up Pakistan’s first ODI title win in 25 years. Fakhar didn’t play the first game against India and made his ODI debut against South Africa at the expense of the out-of-form Ahmed Shehzad.
“He was once only the fakhar (fakhr, the pride) of Katlang. Now he is the fakhar of Pakistan,” his father was quoted on Geo.tv as he followed his debut with two half-centuries against Sri Lanka and England.
Fakhar revealed that Sunday was the first time he felt like playing an international match, and admitted to feeling the pressure of the “big match”. On the eve of the match, there were fears that he might not make the XI after he started feeling ill.
“My body had no energy. I played 3-4 balls and told the coach that I have no energy, I’m going back to the dressing room. He said alright. Then I called our massuer, and our physio and told them that my body feels very bad, please do something,” he said. Fakhar then revealed how the Pakistani physio then skipped dinner and treated him all night, and how the opener only slept for five hours before waking up at 4 am for prayers feeling a lot better just in time to help make Pakistan champions again.
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