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Unheard of Pakistani bowler is top wicket taker in England

Updated August 16, 2013
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After Imran Tahir and Fawad Ahmed, yet another cricketer of Pakistani origin has come into the spotlight while playing for a foreign club due to his outstanding performance. Muhammad Azharullah, a fast bowler for English county Northamptonshire, has been the most successful bowler in this year’s England Twenty20 domestic circuit.

Hailing from Burewala district in Punjab, Azharullah has shot to fame picking up the highest number of wickets (24) in England’s ongoing T20 season, taking his side to the semi-finals of the tournament.

The 29-year-old Azhar has in the past represented WAPDA, Multan Tigers as well as Quetta Bears in the Pakistan domestic first-class circuit, playing 53 matches, after which he moved to England to play league cricket for a brief period. During his stay in England, however, he fell in love with a scorer at his cricket club in the Bradford Cricket League and decided to stay there. He finally moved to England a year after his marriage which took place in 2009.

He became eligible to play county cricket this year after acquiring British citizenship, three years after he had moved there. Northamptonshire offered Azharullah a one year contract this season. The right arm fast bowler told BBC, "It was an educated risk for Northants. They saw my pace and my career statistics, which are on flat wickets in Pakistan." The risk paid off for his team as they are now in contention to win a tournament they were earlier considered underdogs for.

In this season alone, he has picked up 24 wickets thanks to his booming inswingers. His team will face Essex in the semi finals this Saturday and it is to be seen if and when he will claim a spot in the England international T20 squad. "It's always been my dream to play international cricket," he told BBC in an interview.

Fellow Pakistani Yasir Arafat is just behind Azharullah with 20 wickets this season, putting him at number two in the wickets tally.