Ramadan is a month of spiritual reflection and fasting in Pakistan, but it is also a time for sports and recreation, especially after Taraweeh prayers. Among the various sports played during this month, cricket is undoubtedly the most popular and widely played. From amateur enthusiasts on the streets to professional players in the grounds, cricket fever takes over the country during Ramadan, with cricket tournaments being organized at various levels and in different regions.
Cricket is not just a sport in Pakistan, it is a passion, a way of life. The holy month of Ramadan adds an extra layer of excitement to this already beloved sport. It is a time when young and old alike get a chance to showcase their talent and fulfill their dreams of playing cricket all across the country, from streets to stadiums.
The Hub of Ramadan Night Cricket
While cricket is played in every backyard in the nights of Ramadan, the history of Ramadan cricket in Pakistan dates back several decades, with Karachi being the hub of competitive and organized tournaments.
The Nazimabad Super Cup, which was started in 1978, is one of the oldest and most prestigious of these tournaments. It started with a group of passionate cricketers meeting at Zakhmi Chowk and deciding to organize a cricket tournament. The first-ever Super Cup was played on a cement pitch at the Eidgaah ground in Ramadan, and the tournament continued to grow in popularity and importance over the years.
In 1980, the tournament was played on a turf wicket for the first time, and in 1979/80, the Super Cup organizing committee organized the first-ever night cricket match in Asia. The tournament attracted both young and experienced players, and over the years, it became a platform for talent hunting, with many young players getting noticed and making it to the national team. Despite the Nazimabad Super Cup no longer being played, it remains a fond memory and an integral part of the history of Ramadan cricket in Karachi.
Nazimabad Super Cup was later replaced by a modern version named Naya Nazimabad Ramadan Cup which has now grown to hold primary importance in the domestic cricket circuit.
Last year’s Naya Nazimabad Ramadan Cup was a testament to the passion and talent that Ramadan cricket brings forth. Featuring 15 teams divided into three groups, the tournament showcased some of the country’s best young and experienced players. The final at the Naya Nazimabad Cricket Ground saw Saud Shakil-led Alamgir Gymkhana defeat Sarfaraz Ahmed’s Omer Associates by four wickets as they comfortably chased the target of 136 runs. The final featured big names such as Faheem Ashraf, Azam Khan, Umar Akmal, Sohail Akhtar, Asad Shafiq, Qasim Akram, and Mir Hamza. However, it was Saim Ayub, the young sensation of Pakistan cricket, who was declared the Player of the Final, not only for his batting but primarily for his outstanding spell of 3 for 23.
Overall, the tournament showcased some outstanding performances from top performers, including the top scorers Ismail Shah with 176 runs, Shahid Mirani with 166 runs, and Saim Ayub with 162 runs. The top bowlers were Shahzaib Khan with 14 wickets, Aashiq Ali with 13 wickets, and Mohammad Irfan with 12 wickets, while Saim Ayub was in fourth spot on the bowling charts with 11 wickets in 6 matches, followed by Hassan Khan’s 10 scalps.
Saim Ayub also ended up being ranked as the most valuable player of the tournament, performing in all three departments of the game, with his teammate Hassan Khan just below him in the ranking.
These top performers showcased their skills and proved that Ramadan cricket is not just a tradition but also a platform for talent hunt. It provides a unique opportunity for young and experienced players to showcase their skills and make valuable additions to their profiles.
A few matches down the lane, this year’s tournament promises to be equally thrilling, with a blend of the country’s best young and experienced talent set to take the field. The tournament is scheduled to be played till the 3rd of April 2023, with players and fans alike eagerly looking forward to the action-packed Ramadan season.
Although Karachi has always been the cornerstone of Ramadan cricket in the country with players and fans all turning towards Nazimabad for the top-notch action, Lahore is also ready to jump on the stage with its first-ever Ramadan Tournament. The new Ramadan cricket tournament will begin with eight teams, featuring top players such as Babar Azam, Shadab Khan, Ihsanullah, Usama Mir, Umar Akmal, Usman Qadir, Ahsan Ali, Abid Ali, and Azam Khan. While Lahore may be new to the official Ramadan tournament scene, it will undoubtedly bring its own flavor and excitement to the mix.
Karachi has a rich and renowned history of Ramadan cricket, while Lahore is making its mark with its first-ever Ramadan tournament, featuring top players and a new layer of excitement. It remains to be seen whether Lahore’s Ramadan Tournament can match the aura of Karachi’s Ramadan Cup, but one thing is for sure, the passion and enthusiasm that Ramadan cricket elicits in Pakistan will continue to inspire future generations of cricketers.