Cricket’s triplets in a league of their own

After creating history, two among the three Zulfiqar brothers - Saqib and Asad - speak exclusively to Sportstar on their cricketing journey.

(From left) brothers Saqib Zulfiqar, Sikander and Asad.   -  Cricket Netherlands

These are the three names not many in the cricketing fraternity have heard about. But brothers - Sikander, Saqib and Asad Zulfiqar - have created history. On Monday, when the three brothers donned the Netherlands colours for its international List A match against the United Arab Emirates in Amstelveen, they became the first triplets to play in the same international team.

In their twenties, all the brothers started playing cricket at an early age under the watchful eyes of their father, Zulfiqar Ahmed - a Pakistan-born former cricketer who played for the Netherlands. Even as the Dutch side went down to the UAE by three wickets, it brought the three youngsters in the limelight.

As the social media and the scribes all across the globe tried hard to get in touch with them, the Zulfiqar brothers couldn’t understand why there was so much excitement. “We didn’t know that we achieved something unique yesterday. Nobody told us about it during the match,” one of the brothers, Saqib, told Sportstar from Gorinchem on Tuesday afternoon.

While there was initial confusion on whether this is the first time the triplets made it to the same team in an international List A game, noted cricket statistician Mohandas Menon confirmed that this indeed, is a cricketing first. “This is the first time triplets played together in a List A match, that too for the same team. I could not find any other instances of such kind,” Menon told Sportstar.

Childhood passion

Coming from a cricketing family, milestones are not something they are complete new to, but the fact that they themselves made it to the history books was tough to believe for the youngsters. “All of us are students. We were attracted towards cricket from childhood, thanks to our father. That’s how we all started playing cricket,” 20-year-old Saqib, who is oldest among the three, said.

When not playing cricket, the three brothers would be found in the Universities. While Saqib is a medical student, pursuing a degree in optometry, Asad studies aviation. The other one, Sikander - who has already played quite a few international games for the Dutch side - is a student of economics. But then, when it comes to cricket, they all are quite serious. “We are very serious about cricket and all of us take play it from the heart,” Saqib said.

As he spoke, his younger brother Asad, too, agreed. He, however, credited the success to their father Zulfiqar, who migrated from Sialkot in late 1980s. “We could reach this stage because of him. He was the one who would take us to the ground, driving all the way. It is because of his support, we could live our dreams,” Asad said.

Being an opener himself, Asad considers Hashim Amla as his idol, while Saqib - a batting all-rounder - idolises Virat Kohli. “He is a great player,” the youngster said, adding that Sikander is a big fan of Ben Stokes.

While the three have made it to the headlines, their eldest brother - Rehmat - too has been selected for the Netherlands ‘A’ team. “We also have an older sister (Henna), who is 26, and she is a doctor. We have all grown up in a cricketing environment, and we would love to continue playing for the Netherlands more,” Asad said, adding that it would be nice if all the brothers could remain in the same team.

In the past, there have been instances when three brothers from the same family have played for the country (e.g., the Mohammad brothers in Pakistan, Chappell brothers in Australia). But this is for the time that all three played together in the same match, for the same team. For the Zulfiqar brothers, the journey has just started, and they would be hoping to keep the family flag waving.

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