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January 18, 2021

Saud aims to play for Pakistan in all formats

Sports

January 18, 2021

KARACHI: Diminutive left-handed solid batsman Saud Shakeel had an outstanding first-class season recently which helped him earn a slot in the initial 20-man Pakistan squad for the two-match Test series against the Proteas starting from January 26 here at the National Stadium.

Saud says his goal is to represent Pakistan in all three formats. “It is an honour for me to represent Pakistan, but my ultimate goal is to feature for the national team in all three formats,” he said.

Expressing his delight over his inclusion in the Test squad against South Africa, Saud said: “I could not watch team selection’s press conference, but after the team announcement, my Sindh teammates started ringing me and came to my room and congratulated me on my selection,” recalled Saud.

“Throughout my cricket journey, I learnt a lot from Asad Shafiq and Sarfaraz Ahmed, and now I look forward to learning as much as I can in the national team camp.”

Saud has batted well mostly in tough times for Sindh during the first-class season which he finished as the second highest scorer following Kamran Ghulam’s recording breaking run tally.

“I am blessed to have come through age-group cricket, through a proper pathway,” Saud said.

“Occupying the crease and rotation of strike are my strong points.”

Saud began playing cricket when he was 12. He featured in most of the age-group tournaments of PCB. He started his journey by representing Karachi in PCB’s Under-16 tournament in 2011. He represented Pakistan Under-19 for the first time in 2013, and captained the Pakistan Under-19s in 2014. He was picked in Pakistan A squad for the tour of England in 2016, where current Pakistan captain Babar Azam was his captain.

Saud featured in a four-day and four 50-over matches on the tour and played alongside Aamer Yamin, Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Nawaz and Shadab Khan. He led Pakistan Emerging team to victory in ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup Tournament in 2019. The side defeated Bangladesh in the final by 77 runs.

Saud has scored 3220 runs in 46 first-class matches. He has struck 10 centuries and 17 half-centuries at an average of 48.78, with 174 as his best score. With his left-arm spin Saud has taken 23 wickets. In 67 List A matches, Saud has scored 2347 runs at an average of 46.01. He has struck four centuries and 18 half-centuries and taken 26 wickets.

Agha wants to be a batting allrounder

Emerging batting all-rounder Salman Ali Agha on Sunday said that he would try to leave an early impact if he is given a chance to play against South Africa in the Test series.

“If given chance I will try to leave an early impression and play long innings so that I could also play onwards,” Salman, who is generally known as Agha Salman, told a virtual news conference.

Salman was picked in the initial 20-man Pakistan squad for the Test series against South Africa following his superb batting performance in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy which concluded early this month. He represented Southern Punjab. Salman accumulated 941 runs in 19 innings, averaging 58.81. His wonderful feat included two centuries and six fifties.

Salman said that he focussed on his fitness this season which helped him in producing good performances.

Salman follows former Pakistan batting legend Mohammad Yousuf. “I follow Yousuf bhai. I watch his batting videos. I like his cover drive and straight shot and the way he used to build the innings,” he said.

Salman got some batting tips from Mohammad Yousuf during his recent visit to Karachi during the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy which was held entirely in the provincial metropolis due to Covid issues.

“I asked him various questions about batting and he gave detailed responses. If in future too I get a chance to learn from him I will grab that opportunity,” Salman said.

He said that he is also paying attention to his off-spin bowling as he would like to deliver for Pakistan as a batting allrounder.

Asked how under pressure he would be playing against a tough team like South Africa, Salman said: “Pressure is definitely there but we are professionals and will try to handle this pressure.”

He said that he did not know how to react after hearing the news of his selection in the Pakistan team. “I was watching India-Australia match when Adnan Akmal told me that I had been picked. For ten minutes I did not know how to react. Then I called my father and wife and they were all very happy,” Salman said.