Two balls. Two balls is all it took for 19-year-old Umer Khan to bag near enough the biggest wicket going in Twenty20 cricket. His side Karachi Kings ultimately lost the game to Lahore Qalandars but in getting AB de Villiers to hole out from the second ball he bowled to him, this was a moment and a game he is unlikely to forget. Here's what you need to know about this young left-arm spinner.
So, tell me a little about his rise
Umer's story is almost tailor-made for the PSL. Born in Rawalpindi he grew up in FATA (Federally-Administered Tribal Areas, on the border with Afghanistan) His father runs a tire puncture repair shop and it was used tires Umer used to bowl against as stumps for hours on end. He was first spotted by PCB coaches in Pepsi Cricket Stars Under-19 programme in 2014 and selected for FATA, though he didn't get a chance to bowl in a two-day drawn match. He later resurfaced on the Under-19 inter-district circuit in 2016 and was elevated to inter-region under-19s and that same year, made it to the Pakistan side for the ACC Under-19s Asia Cup in Sri Lanka.
Who saw him first?
Umer didn't have a huge number of wickets to show for in age-group cricket but he was spotted Umer hasn't had an impactful youth career so far, in terms of wickets, but some friends of former cricketer and SLA Nadeem Khan (elder brother of Moin) saw Umer playing outside Peshawar cricket stadium. They were impressed by his clean action and Nadeem brought him to UBL (United Bank Limited) where he was head of the side.
Teenager Umer gets de Villiers
The 19-year old had de Villiers holing out to deep square leg
He has played first-class cricket then?
Only one game, but what a game. As it happens, it wasn't for UBL, who were one of Pakistan's most successful domestic sides but who shut down their cricket team last season before Umer could get a game. Nadeem recommended him to SSGC (Sui Southern Gas Corporation) and in his first game he did this: 7 for 107, including a six-fer in the second innings to help his side beat Peshawar. He had also played a List A match for UBL, where he conceded 21 runs in 5 overs without a wicket against WAPDA.
If he's SLA, then...
Rangana Herath must be his hero? You're not wrong.
You're not telling me how he made it to the PSL though
Umer wasn't picked among Karachi Kings first 20 players but teams are allowed to pick a 21st player from their own scouting and development programmes. Having tracked Umer's development, Rashid Latif, one of the franchise director who isn't with the team for this season, vouched for him as a potential and deserving player. He's already impressed Karachi Kings coach Mickey Arthur.
"I thought he was outstanding tonight," Arthur said. "He has really impressed us. We've been together about a week now and he's impressed me hugely. Good attitude, wants to learn and he's a very skilled bowler. He almost seems ahead of his time."
If he was the squad's 21st player, how come he's gotten two games already this season?
Umer wasn't meant to play in the first XI but got his chance because of the fitness concerns surrounding another exciting young spinner Abrar Ahmed, who is Karachi's first-choice emerging spinner. The match against Qalandars was his second of the tournament, and what a way to mark it, getting de Villiers to slog-sweep to deep midwicket where Ravi Bopara was waiting. Those deliveries to de Villiers were well-planned.
"My seniors told me that I shouldn't give him any room to play," Umer told ESPNcricinfo after the match. "As soon as he moves back to play, make him play in the middle and he will get out. I was also confident in myself and had belief that I will do it. The plan was that as soon as he moved back, to cramp him with the ball because then there's no time to play the shot."