Home Cricket News Who Is Aqib Ilyas: Here Is All You Need To Know About The Captain Of Oman

Who Is Aqib Ilyas: Here Is All You Need To Know About The Captain Of Oman

Who Is Aqib Ilyas: Here Is All You Need To Know About The Captain Of Oman

Aqib Ilyas, who has taken over from Zeeshan Maqsood as captain of the Oman cricket team, shares how he believed his life was over after a tumour was found in his left ankle, sidelining him from cricket for 18 months. 

Oman’s men’s cricket captain, Aqib Ilyas, takes a deep breath and says, “Mujhe laga zindagi aur cricket dono khatam (I thought life and cricket were over for me).” The top-order batter and leg break bowler is grateful to have made it this far.

At 31, assuming national captaincy for the first time, he vividly recalled the moment a doctor, holding his X-rays and CAT scan reports, informed him that the acute pain in his left ankle was due to a cancerous tumour.

“It was scary. I’d gone numb,” he shares his story with The Indian Express in an exclusive interview before Oman’s match against Namibia. A few months ago, just before we played in the T20 World Cup (2021), I had lost one of my closest friends to the same illness. He too had a tumour in the same left ankle and he couldn’t survive.”

“When the doctor informed me, it was like my entire world had come crashing down. I had no hope, forget about walking again or playing cricket. Pehla khayal ye aaya ki mai zinda rahunga ya nahi (First thought that crossed my mind was whether I’d be able to make it).

“I remember I texted Duleep Mendis (Oman coach) from the car and wrote ‘Sir, I am done with my cricket, doctors have told me that the swelling is cancer. And I switched off my mobile,” he recalled.

Aqib’s family was in Sialkot, Pakistan, where his father was also unwell. His younger brother and a cousin noticed something was wrong.

“When my brother asked what happened, I started crying. They panicked and called me home,” says Ilyas. “Pankaj Khimji, chairman of Oman Cricket, then called to assure me the board would handle everything. He suggested treatment in London, but I preferred Pakistan to be with my family.”

“The doctor flew to Lahore, performed the surgery at Doctors Hospital, and found the tumour was benign. He reassured my family about the chances of recovery and my return to cricket, though without a definite timeline,” Ilyas explained.

The slow and draining process

If being in the hospital bed was frustrating for Ilays, the rehabilitation process was equally slow. It took him eight months to walk without crutches and 18 months to get back to playing cricket.

“At first, I was just thankful to be alive. The rehabilitation was exhausting. I was pushing myself to recover, but cancer recovery is a slow process. And I was very frail, having lost a lot of weight.”

”I reassured myself that my legs were fine and the doctors had cleared me to play cricket again. I thought it would only take a few weeks, but it ended up taking me 18 months,” he laughs.


In his debut competitive match, Ilyas scored 52 runs against Ireland in the ODI World Cup qualifier. Just two days later, he made 53 runs against the UAE.

“The first fifty against Ireland is the most special. After almost one and a half years, I was returning to the cricket ground and I managed to perform well,” he said.

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