Two six-year-olds have become social media sensations in Pakistan with videos of their bowling “blowing away” the likes of Shane Warne and Wasim Akram, who have been giving the pair tips on improving their game.
Eli Mikal Khan, from the southwestern city of Quetta, has been nicknamed Shane Warne Junior after videos posted on Twitter of his astonishing leg break bowling attracted awe from fans around the world and drew tips and encouragement from the Australian legend.
Another six-year-old, an aspiring pace bowler named Hasan Akhtar, has meanwhile been dubbed Little Wasim Akram after the former Pakistani captain who also saw videos of him on Twitter and insisted on tracking him down and meeting him.
The two children have been widely feted by Pakistani media as the cricket-obsessed country celebrated the successful staging of the third Pakistan Super League final in Karachi.
Eli said he dreams of playing for Pakistan.
“I love cricket… I want to become a perfect leg break bowler,” he said.
He said he enjoys the adulation he has received, particularly from legends such as Warne who first tweeted encouragement to Eli after seeing one of his videos in March.
This week Warne retweeted another video of Eli, writing: “Absolutely fantastic, blown away on how good the ball comes out of your hand, especially at the age of only 6 — well done and keep up the great work. One tip — get that bowling arm a little higher!”
Eli, whose father and coach Abdullah Khan maintains his Twitter account, said he had been honoured by the tweet, adding: “I will definitely work on the given tip by Sir @ShaneWarne”.
Admiration of the two six-year-olds comes as Pakistan enjoys guarded optimism over the return of international cricket, driven from the country after a deadly militant attack targeting the Sri Lanka team in 2009. Last weekend Karachi became the second major venue to host international matches after Lahore hosted five international matches against Zimbabwe in 2015, as well as the PSL final in March last year, three World XI matches in September and one against Sri Lanka a month later.
If Eli’s dream of playing for Pakistan bears fruit, he could be joined by fellow Twitter sensation Hasan, videos of whom drew Akram’s notice in late February.
“Where is this boy???” he said, retweeting one of the videos and calling for a platform to discover such talent in Pakistan.
On Monday he tweeted images of himself with the six-year-old, who he called a “young sensation” with “unbelievable skills”.
“Really enjoyed spending quality time with Hasan,” he wrote, adding that the child’s knowledge is already unreal.
Hasan’s father Muhammad said that before he realised how talented his son was, he found the bowling habit annoying.
I just recieved this video and don’t know about this brilliant kid, want to know your thoughts abt this terrific bowling. @wasimakramlive @shoaib100mph @iramizraja @SAfridiOfficial pic.twitter.com/8JPRQNHlfj— Faizan Ramzan (@faizanramzank) February 27, 2018
“Our home floor is made of mud and Hasan would break the surface bowling all day,” he said in the village of Chichawatni, some 200 kilometres from Lahore.
One of Hasan’s seven older siblings posted the initial video of him, which the family did not know had gone viral until a cousin phoned to say it was playing on television and that news reporters were looking for him.
The meeting with Akram took place in Karachi, arranged by private broadcaster Geo, Hasan’s father said, adding that it was “beyond imagination”.
Hasan said Akram had been very kind, adding that other heroes include Pakistan’s Mohammad Aamir and Australia’s Mitchell Starc.
“We did not expect the amount of love and support he has shown to us,” Hasan’s father said. “He coached Hasan how to hold the ball properly, the importance of the run-up and how to deliver the ball and he insisted that Hasan should continue his studies.”
Asif was supposed to travel to the UAE to take part in the 10PL tennis ball cricket tournament in Sharjah. The tournament was held from March 19-23.
The 35-year-old was reportedly stopped from entering the UAE as he did not have necessary clearance. The report stated Asif had been given a special visa to travel to Dubai.
This is the second time Asif has encountered trouble in Dubai. In 2008, Asif was arrested and spent two weeks in custody while returning from the Indian Premier League as he was found to be carrying opium in his wallet.
During his stint with the senior Pakistan team, Asif tested the best batsmen in the world at the highest level before his fall from grace following the 2010 Lord’s Test spot-fixing scandal.
Asif was banned from the game for five years for his part in the scandal that also involved Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir. While Amir is back in the senior team, Asif and Butt await their chance.
Asif has returned to domestic cricket in Pakistan and was earlier unveiled as a ‘key player’ in the second edition of 10PL. Asif was supposed to turn out for Shehenshah Warriors, part of 16 teams in the tournament.
Ahmed has been suffering from a deteriorating heart condition that has resulted in reduced heart functioning and onset of organ failure, GEO News reported.
“Shahid Afridi Foundation will bear all expenses of Mansoor’s treatment and won’t let him down,” Afridi was quoted as saying.
Ahmed has been advised by doctors to seek better treatment abroad. He is currently at the Jinnah hospital in Karachi.
Ahmed etched his name in history by saving the last penalty in the 1994 Hockey World Cup the final against Netherlands that sealed the title for Pakistan. He is a three-time Olympian.
The former goaltender was admitted to ICU a couple of weeks back and a part of his medical bill was taken care of by the Pakistan Hockey Federation.