Karachi, Ramazan and tape ball cricket

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Karachi, Ramazan and tape ball cricket


The action starts after the Taraweeh prayers and continues till Sehri

Ramazan, especially in Karachi, is synonymous with night tape-ball cricket. During the holy month, every street of the metropolis turns into a cricket field.

The thoroughfares, which are deserted and dark on the usual nights of the year, are lit up with lights mounted on poles or just hanging from wires.

The action starts after the Taraweeh prayers and continues till Sehri. There are best of three games, triangular series and big multi-teams tournaments.

It is a kind of entertainment where young and old alike participate. When there is a competitive tournament being played, there is a large crowd present there, sitting on the footpaths of the streets, enjoying, analysing and sometimes coaching the youngsters participating.

Tape ball cricket is considered to be an invention of Karachi. There is no specific year or concrete area that can be called the birthplace of this format of the game. Moreover, different people quote different reasons for the birth of tape-ball cricket.


It is said that tape ball cricket started in the late seventies. At first, they used to play in the streetlights but then they started using regular rod lights.



Before Ramazan, youngsters complete arrangements to play cricket such as installing lights, chalking the crease and boundaries and buying equipment.

Street cricket starts in almost all areas of Karachi on the first day of fasting. In the last two years, the local form of the sport was disturbed, not completely halted, amid the Covid-19-related restrictions.


However, this year, the night matches are in full swing across the city.

There are night cricket events staged in almost all the areas of the city. If you do not have already enrolled in a tournament, you along with your team will have to travel from one area to another on motorcycles in search of a tournament or a team that is looking for an opponent for some breathtaking action.

In search of street cricket addicts, Bol News turned to the old Saddar area of Karachi where street cricketers are in action on almost every street.

A big tournament was being played in front of the Techno Centre, where teams from all over the metropolitan city were participating. The organisers told that sides from Landhi, Korangi, Gulistan-e- Johar, and Defence Housing Authority (DHA) come here to play regularly.

The entry fee of the tournament was minimal with Rs2,500per team, while it will be played on a knockout basis. The winning unit would clinch an award of Rs5,000.




Meanwhile, on Saturdays and Sundays, the tournament gets bigger, the entry fee gets higher and the reward gets mightier. The entry becomes Rs5,000, while the winning team takes Rs10,000 home.

“Usually four teams come daily to play in a tournament,” said Mohammad Nadeem, who is a part of the committee organising these events. “If there are six teams, the series is divided into two days.”

According to Nadeem, because there is a wide road, boys love to come and play there.

Since street cricket is played on straight roads, the rules and regulations are different. A batter is out if he hits the ball on a nearby roof. If the ball touches the wall somewhere outside the boundary, it is six.


Nadeem shared that each team brings their own ball and tape. One of the reasons is that the balls are lost very often. The other reason is that quality balls are needed to play big shots, so each team bring them for better performance.

In street cricket, there is a player in every area who is a match-winner. He can be compared with different cricketers, depending on whether he is right-handed or left-handed, slogger or a proper batter and also how he looks.

Zeeshan Shah is a tape ball celebrity in the Saddar area. Every team in the area wants him to play from their side.

“I play street cricket just to have some fun,” revealed Shah. “I have previously played for Rashid Latif Cricket Academy and Moin Khan Academy at the U19 level.”

Street cricket requires a different set of skills to be successful. As this form of the game is played on straight roads, therefore, bowlers tend to bowl short balls so that batters cannot just loft them for maximums.

“If there is a match of six overs, then you have to attack the opponent bowlers from the word go. The only one who succeeds in street cricket is the one who can play with a straight bat. Batsmen who play on leg stumps or off stumps or bowlers who bowl on fuller length usually fail in road cricket,” opined Shah.


According to him, playing on the ground is much easier than playing on the roads.

“Batsmen can only play straight or at third man in street cricket,” he said, adding there is no off or leg side. “Be it bouncers, yorkers, slow balls or whatever, it has to be played straight. That’s why our game gets better and we shine more when we play on grounds,” he maintained.

The Saddar’s star cricketer claimed that street cricket is very fast and only agile players can survive in it. Moreover, as you play this kind of cricket, you become street smart, without this quality, you cannot be successful in this sport.




There is little room for error for bowlers in this game. Batters are always looking to go after them and they have few options to stop them. As a result, there are a few techniques that bowlers use, such as tearing the tape to gain swing, something similar to ball-tampering in international cricket.

“It is important to keep an eye on the ball so that the bowler does not tear the tape as it helps in swinging,” said Shah.

Fast bowler Mohammad Farhan said that he came all the way from Korangi as a guest player to play the match. “I am often called by the teams because of my good bowling,” he shared. “My characteristic is that I bowl with pace and get swing naturally.”

Every single ball is immensely important in street cricket so bowlers try their best to stop the batsmen from hitting out or bowl them out every time they run in. It is a tricky path for bowlers because, for wickets, you need to bowl full, but at the same time, it increases the risk of conceding runs.

Farhan said that before bowling, he observes the batsman for a few seconds and then goes to the run-up. “Before I bowl, I look at the batsman, how he stands on the wicket, how he grips the bat. I have been playing road cricket for a long time. I look at the body language of the batsman, evaluate it and then bowl accordingly.”

Moreover, the role of the wicketkeeper is also crucial. The third-man boundary is small, the bowlers bowl fast and the pitch is also small. Therefore, the keeper needs to be spot on.


Furthermore, the running between the wickets is extremely aggressive. Batsmen deem to run no matter where the ball is, even when they don’t even touch the ball. The keeper needs to be alert all the time and not miss a single ball as it can easily result in a run or two.

Yasir Waqas, who was playing for a team as a wicket-keeper, said that he stands right behind the wicket, which makes the batsmen afraid of leaving the crease.

“The wicket-keeper’s hands must be strong because it is very difficult to catch the fast bowler’s delivery. My fingers are often swollen but I still stand right behind the wicket,’’ he added.

Acting as umpire, Arshad Khan said that the biggest test in street cricket is umpiring because players play with great enthusiasm and passion and there is always a question on officials’ neutrality. “Often, controversy arises,” he said. “By the way, the decision of the umpire is final, but when there is a dispute over something, they try to find a solution.”

If such a situation is not resolved on time, it can end up in the abandonment of the game.


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