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Naveed Ahmed Khan takes a lot of pride in the challenges he has overcome to carve a career in the game. Part of Pakistan’s ICC U19 World Cup squad, Naveed looks eager to make the most of this opportunity. Naveed hails from Karachi and plies his trade as an off-spinner with a high-arm action.
Coming from humble beginnings in the biggest metropolitan of Pakistan, he was introduced to the game by his elder brother who struggled to establish himself in the professional circuit. Naveed says his brother helped him a lot because he wanted to become a cricketer and failed so he lent all his support to the younger sibling. At the same time, both brothers had no backing from their father who struggled to make ends meet. While most of his family members discouraged him from pursuing the game, Naveed’s elder brother always made him believe. He had to work odd jobs to help his father put food on the table and supplying wood coal to local shops was one of them.
At one point he had to sacrifice his studies as he switched between his part-time job and cricket training. He played as a batter at U13 level but switched to right-arm off-spin as he started training at Pakistan Cricket Club in Karachi. The club was home to many star players, like Sarfaraz Ahmed and Asad Shafiq, and he used to observe their training as a keen apprentice. At the U16 trials, he had to sit out because of not falling in the required age parameters for the said tournament, which left him heartbroken.
“Rejection at the U16 level has made me the player I am today,” Naveed told PCB Digital. “My brother advised me to just play and hone my skills without feeling disappointed. I will always stay indebted to my elder brother, Mehtab Ahmed Khan, and coach Naveed Al Amin who helped me with finances and much-needed support.”
The National U19 Championship 2022-23 was a breakthrough tournament for Naveed as he ended up the joint second-leading wicket-taker, representing Sindh Blues U19, with 22 scalps in six games in the 12-team tournament.
These performances led to his selection in the Pakistan Junior League 2022, which was a big boost to his aspirations. This also helped him win the support of his father as he was happy after seeing his son go places and make a name for himself.
His performances in the Regional Inter-District U19 2023 and National U19 One Day Cup 2023 paved the way for his call-up to Pakistan U19. In both tournaments, he bagged a combined total of 22 wickets in 10 games. He was given a chance against the visiting Sri Lanka U19 in October 2023 where he returned with three wickets in the four-day game and seven wickets in the five one-day games. Naveed was also part of the Pakistan U19 squad for the ACC U19 Asia Cup 2023 but warmed the bench during the tournament.
“This is my second overseas tour after Asia Cup and I’m excited to be part of the team for the World Cup,” said Naveed. “We are a strong unit and we are all aiming for glory in South Africa. I keep asking experienced players about South African conditions and how to bowl there. Hopefully, we’ll adjust to the conditions courtesy of the two warm-up games and training sessions before the start of the campaign.”