Were it not for one or two twists of fate, Fakhar Zaman might have been watching Pakistan's tour of Zimbabwe on television, from the mess deck of one of the nine or so frigates that patrol Pakistan's 650 mile coastline along the Arabian Sea.

But in an enjoyable narrative twist instead, the man who found cricket while serving in the navy has travelled thousands of miles to a tiny landlocked Southern African country - and become the first Pakistani batsman to score a double-hundred in a one-day international. "Today was my day," Fakhar said after his historic innings.

This innings did indeed seem fated, and Fakhar also explained that - ever the navy man - he was only acting under orders from his coach Mickey Arthur. "Mickey told me before the toss that if we win the toss we will bat first and 'I want you to score a double-hundred'", Fakhar explained. "So I applied myself today and scored one."

"Some coaches like giving their players totals to go for and targets, some people play better under those pressures and some people feel the pressure more than others," said Pakistan batting coach Grant Flower. "It just depends on your players." Clearly, Fakhar is comfortable under pressure.

Since he got to Zimbabwe three weeks ago, he has scored 708 runs in just nine innings, averaging over 55 in the T20 tri-series and a whopping 430 across the four ODIs played so far, being dismissed just once.

His 210 not out on Friday included 29 boundaries - the most in an ODI innings by a Pakistan batsman - and is all the more remarkable considering he hadn't even faced a ball until the fourth over of the innings. With his 24th and final four, belted to the cover boundary, he reached a summit 200 runs high, writing himself indelibly into the record books and Pakistani cricketing lore.

"It's a great achievement," said Flower, who is in his fifth year as Pakistan's batting coach and has overseen Fakhar's rise from rookie to record breaker. "I've done a lot of work with him in the nets, but he's got a lot of natural talent and he's worked really hard. Coming from his background, being in the navy and being very raw when he first came into the set-up, his technique has come a long way. But he's still got a lot of his naturalness, and I think that's his biggest asset."

Fakhar's double hundred is, of course, only part of the story, one well worth telling. As a teenager, he moved from his home in Katlang, just north of Mardan, to Karachi and joined the navy at his father's behest. Young Fakhar wasn't too taken with the idea, but the move ended up changing his life. When he was sent to PNS Karsaz in Karachi for further training, he met Nazim Khan, coach of the Pakistan Naval Cricket Academy.

Welcomed into the side, he cracked a hundred in his first game and was also introduced to Azam Khan, a noted Karachi cricket fan. From that came a place in inter-district Under-19 cricket, where his talents continued to bloom. He was allowed to leave his position as a sailor in the navy, and re-join as a professional sportsman, ten years ago.

He eventually forced his way into first-class cricket, but it wasn't until the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy in 2016-17 that his form began to be noticed. His performances in the Pakistan Super League led to a call-up to Pakistan's T20I side, and then on into the one-day side. All along the way, he was aided by a work ethic gained from his navy background, and Flower believes the effects of that background can still be seen today. As a 17-year-old sailor, he'd regularly wake before dawn to go for runs that spanned many miles, before performing his duties in the daytime and playing sport in the evenings.

"It definitely comes from the navy," Flower said. "He is fit, and that definitely helps getting a double-hundred. Even though it's not that hot right now, you're doing a lot of shuttles out there and your concentration span has to be at its best.

"He showed a lot of mental strength today. He had a couple of shots where he might have given it away, but he had a bit of luck. But a lot of times when you play with confidence and bravery, the luck goes your way."

After motoring past 150, the next milestone for Fakhar was Saeed Anwar's 194. With a pick-up over the leg side off Donald Tiripano, he moved past the record held by Anwar for 21 years. Comparisons between the two are perhaps inevitable, as both are free-flowing left-handed openers, but their batting is built around vastly different methodologies. Where Anwar was a study of graceful strokeplay through the off side - and often behind point - Fakhar's bat is more shovel than rapier and he's more likely to bludgeon his boundaries through wide mid-on.

And yet, there is more to his singularly unorthodox, homespun batting technique than that, as he showed on Friday morning. The fourth ODI was played on the pitch dead centre in the Queens Sports Club oval, with boundaries equidistant on all sides, and Fakhar pinged all of them. The heave to midwicket was certainly on show, and that's where he scored the bulk of his runs, but so were swats through cover, wallops through point, sweeps reversed, slogged and lapped off the spinners, and even a sublime glide through the gully off Blessing Muzarabani, which suggested finesse rather than brutality.

It's the sort of technique that relies on close coordination of hand and eye, and one which probably wouldn't take well to too much tinkering. As such, Flower has sought to enhance Fakhar's natural talents, rather than change them.

"I've just done some basic stuff, getting his head to the ball and not playing too much away from his body," Flower explained. "But at the same time, that's one of his strengths. So it's a bit of give and take, you just try and find a balance. He's coming on in leaps and bounds, as everyone can see. Hopefully he'll keep his head to the ground and keep training hard. He's a very good person, so I'm sure that will happen."

Perhaps the only regret from Friday would be that there weren't more people to see the record-breaking innings. The sun came out and temperatures rose for the first time in the series, but there were less than a thousand people at the ground to watch the game.

Not that that will bother Fakhar. Beyond his self-assuredness at the crease, his unorthodoxy, and his uncanny ability to find the boundary, there seems to be a grounded human being equipped with that rare feature in the modern professional cricketer: a sense of humour.

When asked whether his stellar batting might be depriving the middle order of time in the middle, he joked: "Well I'll keep trying to not give them the chance!"

His historic double-hundred has gained him entry into an elite club alongside the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Rohit Sharma, Chris Gayle and Martin Guptill. 'Fakhar' means pride in Urdu, and the pride of Katlang became the pride of Pakistan today.

Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town