It was the Tatara ground, a rough and jagged terrain surrounded by treacherous hills in Landikotal, where Usman Khan Shinwari, hero for Pakistan in the fifth ODI against Sri Lanka in Sharjah, was able to hone his skills on the cricket pitch.
Usman’s talent and passion for the game took him from Landikotal to the national team where his fiery spell on Monday earned him his first five-for, and that too a match-winning one, in just the second ODI of his career.
The feat brought a smile on the faces of not only the people of Pakistan, but also for his tribal people who have continued playing cricket in difficult situations, without any facilities or a proper sports ground.
“Not only the family but the whole Landi Kotal is celebrating Usman’s brilliant bowling performance against Sri Lanka,” said his father Asmat Khan Shinwari while talking with The Express Tribune, adding that the people are praying for more success for Usman and are hoping that he will bring laurels for the country.
“We have been playing cricket in a very difficult situation in Landi Kotal where there are no facilities for sportsmen,” Asmat lamented.
Asmat, 50 years old, who is himself a cricket enthusiast and still practices with his sons, revealed the playing condition of the ground where Usman grew up playing cricket. “Usman started his cricket career from Tatara ground of Landi Kotal which is not a proper cricket ground and constitutes of a rough and jagged terrain surrounded by treacherous Tatara hills,” he said.
Landi Kotal is a Tehsil of Khyber Agency where the local people have made a ground for themselves 20 years back and named it after the Tatara mountains. At this ground, Asmat told, young aspiring sportsmen have played cricket and football, and that too during the most turbulent times when militancy hit the whole Khyber Agency.
Shinwari belongs to Ghani Khel and represented his village in cricket tournaments which are organized every year among different villages of the agency.
Asmat added that he brought Usman to Islamia Cricket Academy run by former Pakistan national team Player Arshad Khan at the historical Islamia College, Peshawar to further horn his skills.
“He is enthusiastic about cricket like other youngsters of his area,” Asmat told media persons, who swarmed his house in Hayatabad, after Usman’s record performance.
“The whole family is happy that his efforts have finally paid off,” said Asmat. “Unlike other parents, we always supported him to play cricket.”
Usman’s father added that his other son Ibrahim Shinwari has passed the U16 trials and hopes to play for the national team in the future.
“There is a huge deficiency of sporting facilities in Landi Kotal,” rued Asmat. “So far no government has supported the youth in this part of the world. We have, in these mountains, talented sportsmen who should represent the country and possess the ability to bring accolades for Pakistan.”
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ