LAHORE: Pakistan’s recently announced T20 and ODI squad for the upcoming tour of the West Indies features a total of six newcomers, all of whom have expressed their delight at being given a chance by the selectors and vowed to repay their faith. Of the sextuplet, Fakhar Zaman, Rumman Raees, Shadab Khan and Usman Khan Shinwari were picked on the basis of their performances in the Pakistan Super League season two, whereas Asif Zakir and Fahim Ashraf have been rewarded for their consistent showings in the domestic season. The 33-year-old Zakir’s induction into the national fold was a long time coming, and he has vowed to not let this opportunity slip his grasps. “I have been performing for a long time and was hopeful that I will get a chance,” Zakir, who has been playing domestic cricket for 14 years and is a first-class veteran of 123 matches, said Friday. “My job was to keep performing and piling up stats, which has finally paid off. I will try and perform to the best of my abilities for the national team.” All-rounder Ashraf, who has 326 runs and 52 wickets under his belt in 34 List-A matches, likened his selection to passing an exam. “I have been working hard for this moment and now it has finally come,” he said. “It is like I have passed my examination, although the main test will be the West Indies tour itself.”
Shinwari, meanwhile, highlighted his never-say-die attitude that helped him recover from a serious injury and credited the PSL for helping him re-launch his career. “I was quite disappointed when I suffered that injury as it was my dream to play for the national team,” recalled Shinwari. “With a year out of cricket I was not sure if I would ever have my pre-injury pace. “But I practiced hard, worked on my fitness a lot and came back stronger than before. Now that I have got a chance to prove my fitness and skills for the national team, I will give my best. Also, the PSL has given me a lot of experience, which will surely help on this tour.”
Shadab, the youngest squad member at 18 in both the limited-overs sides, added: “This is great achievement for me as I have got this chance at an early age, and it has been made possible because of the hard work I put in with my coaches and trainers.” For Lahore Qalandars’ Fakhar Zaman, the selection of untested players mean a new chapter in Pakistan cricket has begun. “This is payback for my patience for so many years and also the hard work I have put in,” said the 26-year-old from Mardan. “PSL has not only given a chance to me but to other players too. This is a great change in Pakistan cricket that so many new players have been drafted into the side.” Zaman further said that the PSL has not only improved the players’ skills and fitness but has also formed a bond between them, something which could pay dividends in the Caribbean. “I have heard that conditions are tough in the West Indies but similar to the PSL so we are optimistic that we will win for our country and prove our selection right,” he added.