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October 27, 2020

Local players eager to make a mark on home ground


October 27, 2020

RAWALPINDI: The Pakistan cricket team reached Islamabad on Monday for the limited-overs series against Zimbabwe, which local lad Shadab Khan says would be the start of a new era for him.

The leg-spinning all-rounder has been appointed vice-captain to Babar Azam for both series, an honour and responsibility that has come so early in his career.

The 22-year-old Shadab has played a lot of cricket at the Pindi Cricket Stadium and is looking forward to representing Pakistan in his hometown. It will be after 14 years that One-Day International cricket returns to Rawalpindi with six of the 22 squad members belonging to the twin cities.

“Exciting times for me as I will be vice-captaining at my home ground where I have some great memories of the stadium, especially since watching cricket here as a spectator. I have even come here as a spectator to support Mohammad Nawaz in a domestic game, as he is a good mate of mine. The Zimbabwe series should produce good cricket at this venue where we have seen some really exciting games in the past,” Shadab said.

All-rounder Imad Wasim has also played a number of domestic games at the Pindi Stadium. The 31-year-old, who first watched an international match at the venue in 2003 as a spectator, is hoping to make a big impression in the series.

“I watched a match here for the first time in 2003 when Bangladesh was touring; I saw the likes of Inzamamul Haq and Shoaib Akhtar play that match and that was a big inspiration and motivation for me. I am excited and keenly await the start of the Zimbabwe series at this venue. We are playing an ODI after more than a year. Pindi Stadium is a great venue to restart ODI cricket,” said Imad.

Young wicketkeeper-batsman Rohail Nazir is another player hailing from the region. The 19-year-old is keen on starting his Pakistan senior’s journey from his home ground.

“I am very pleased to play on the field where I used to watch others play sitting in the spectator stands. Now I have got this opportunity of playing and practising with Pakistan cricketers at the same venue. It is an honour and something that makes me very proud and happy. If given a chance of making a debut here, I would give my absolute best and use my knowledge of the venue and the conditions.”

Fast bowler Haris Rauf, who lives near the Pindi Stadium, is delighted to be a part of the Pakistan squad. The 26-year-old has played five T20Is and is looking forward to the possible opportunity of making his ODI debut.

“I was obsessed about cricket and grounds as a kid. I remember I once scaled the wall of the stadium at dawn just to touch the pitch of the Pindi Stadium. The possibility of making my ODI debut at my home ground is really exciting. If given an opportunity, I would really like to make a big impression and do well for my country.”

Haider Ali is also ready to make a big impression after becoming the first Pakistani to score a fifty on his T20I debut — against England at Manchester last month.

“I was eager to play at my home venue. I am very excited and want to make full use of this opportunity. Of course, my aim is to build on the start I made; I am not at all complacent and rather fully focused on the upcoming games. The added incentive for me is to do well at my home ground where I have played a lot of cricket.”

Fast bowler Musa Khan’s wish like the rest of the players is to make most of the opportunity of doing well at his home venue in an international match.

“I played U19 cricket here at this venue, also represented Islamabad United and now I am looking forward to donning the national colours at the Pindi Stadium. I have a lot of cherished memories from the venue and I will use those memories to give me confidence and generate a feel-good factor before taking the field.”