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November 19, 2019

Consistent first-class wicket-taker Tabish still hopes to represent Pakistan


Tue, Nov 19, 2019

KARACHI: While some fresh-faced teens are lucky enough to be called for national duty with just a handful of matches under their belt, at the opposite end of the spectrum are veterans such as Tabish Khan, who has never been given the chance to represent Pakistan, despite a massive career haul of 565 first-class wickets to his name at an average of 23.56.

Tabish, now 34, has been active in the domestic circuit since 2002-3 season — a career span of almost two decades.

On Tuesday, he bagged another five-wicket haul, the 37th of his glittering first-class cricket career as he took 5-85 against Central Punjab for Sindh at the National Stadium in Karachi during a Quaid-e-Azam Trophy match.

The five-fers keep on coming match by match, and season by season but the call from the national selectors does not.

“I am waiting to see Pakistan’s star shine on my chest,” Tabish told Geo News.

“There’s nothing better than that. Even thinking about wearing the green shirt makes me feel so excited,” he replied when asked how important it is for him to play Test cricket for Pakistan.

Tabish made his best case during the 2009-10 season when he took 95 wickets. However, all it earned him was a call-up for the Pakistan A team’s tour to Sri Lanka where he was given just a single match.

The next Pakistan A selection — coincidentally for another tour of Sri Lanka — would take five long years and many more wicket-laden seasons.

'Don't know what more is expected of me?'

From the national team selectors though, he has not gotten any love whatsoever. Many came, many went but surprisingly no selector was impressed enough with the skills and stats of Tabish.

“I don’t know what more I need to do to get picked. Let me know if something else other than fitness and performance is required too. I will try to get that done as well,” the uncapped veteran pacer said in dejection.

“It is my wish to play Test cricket for Pakistan,” he said as he summed up his life-long dream in words.

A product of Karachi — a region now barely represented at the highest level — Tabish has not given up hope and rejects the notion that he could be past-his-prime due to his age.

“If I was over the hill, then I wouldn’t have been playing today,” he said.

Tabish said that he was confident of being picked for the Australia tour following the retirement and semi-retirement of Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz from Tests.

“I was hopeful of being picked for the Australia tour, and now when I see the wickets there during warm-up games, it makes me salivate as I believe that I would have been done really well on those wickets if I was there,” he said.

But after losing the selection battle yet again, he is now eyeing a slot in the series against Sri Lanka on the basis of his formidable record on home pitches.

"I was also told during fast bowlers’ camp that my fitness and bowling was impressive and I will definitely get a chance in this long season to represent Pakistan,” Tabish, ever the optimist, said.

“Also, I have taken wickets here in conditions where fast bowlers usually struggle. This may give me an edge."