Saqlain started his first-class career in 1994–95 at the age of 17. In his first season he took 52 wickets and was selected to play for Pakistan A in a one-day tournament at Dhaka. In September 1995 he got international recognition, taking seven wickets for the PCB Patron’s Eleven against the visiting Sri Lankans. Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram said of him that he was “the greatest off-spinner he has seen” and “as aggressive as a fast bowler, not afraid of getting hit, and has this total belief in himself.”
Saqy was the first off spinner to master the doosra. He had a fast, short-stepping action with a ‘halting’ delivery.
Overall he played 194 FC matches and 49 Test matches for Pakistan taking 833 and 208 wickets respectively and also played in 169 ODI’s and 323 List A matches amassing 766 wickets (288 & 478 respectively)
A more than useful with the bat he made a Test century v New Zealand in March 2001
He has taken 13 Test five-wicket hauls with 3 Test tenfers. In ODI, he took seven five-wicket hauls. Saqlain was selected as one of the Wisdens Cricketer Of The Year for 2000. A statistical analysis conducted by Wisden in 2003 revealed Saqlain as the all-time greatest ODI spinner, and the sixth-greatest ODI bowler. He was the fastest to reach the milestones of 100, 150, 200 and 250 wickets in ODIs.
He was the first of only two spinners to have taken a hat-trick in an ODI (the other being Abdur Razzak, and the second of only four bowlers to have taken two ODI hat-tricks (Wasim Akram, Chaminda Vaas and Lasith Malinga being the others), the second of which was only the second hat-trick in a World Cup match. He holds the record for the most wickets in a calendar year in ODIs-69 wickets in 1997. He is also second in this elite list with 65 wickets in 1996.
He now coaches internationally for a host of countries and franchises, whilst also being a TV pundit and regular contributor to his own YouTube channel.