How difficult it is for a player to spend time out of the team?
Off course it is really difficult but what we can say. We try our best to perform for the team. My elders, such as Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mushtaq Ahmed, have taught me to perform for the team, rest is upon the captain and the coach and how they utilize your talent. As wicket-keeper I have performed well lately. As far as batting is concerned, I was struggling to bat at the position I was given but I tried my best to score runs.
Pakistan’s domestic season is starting this month. Are you looking forward to it?
Definitely it is the best platform which gives you opportunity to perform and look for comeback. Not only for comeback, it is good platform for the emerging cricketers as well. Even when we had not played for Pakistan, we used to wait for the domestic cricket very eagerly. Apart from it, we also keep playing our club cricket so that whenever we get a call up from Pakistan we are ready to grab the opportunity.
It was really good experience. Now even Kenya has started its premier league. They didn’t have much funds to attract the big cricket names still they organized it and it will improve their cricket. They had some impressive teams too, like the Uganda’s team [Rewnzori Warriors] against whom we played the final. And I must say that performance of Abdul Razzaq should not be forgotten. The credit of our win also goes to him.
Are you focusing only on ODI and Twenty20I comebacks?
No, my focus is on all the three formats – Twenty20, One Day and Test. I don’t plan to feature in the limited-overs only. Although Adnan is in the Test team now, it is not team of brothers. We play for country. I have never vacant a spot to accommodate brothers. We have never thought of dividing places in the teams. Whoever is performing well should be in team. I still aim to play Test Cricket.
Which innings of your career you enjoyed the most?
I have enjoyed playing all the innings, like the one in Mohali which saved the Test for Pakistan. But I think the innings I enjoyed the most was my maiden International century which was at Brisbane against the West Indies. I came to know about a week later that it was first time a Pakistan wicketkeeper scored century in ODI Cricket. It was sort of last match for me. I give credit to Younis Khan for that innings. He worked hard on me in the nets ahead of the match. Brisbane usually has a bouncy wicket so Younis bhai made me practice according to it. I also give credit to my seniors, Inzy bhai and Mushtaq bhai. The latter was my captain at the National Bank.
Tell us about your match-winning century in the Karachi Test which is said to be one of the best knocks in history of India-Pakistan matches?
There was hat-trick in the first over [by Irfan Pathan]. Our main batsmen Salman, Younis bhai and Yousuf bhai were back in the dressing room. The situation was really tense. I was sitting with Inzy bhai in the dressing room, who was not playing that match due to injury. He gave me lot of confidence and said you have performed well in previous matches so just go and play your natural game.
Inzy bhai’s calm and nonchalant approach gave me more confidence and I didn’t take pressure at all. He asked us to just go and play natural game. He said the wicket is not easy so whatever we score, even if 100 or 150, we will not let them go beyond our total.
What future holds for you?
I am only 31 at the moment. There is still lot of cricket left in me. Look at Misbah-ul-Haq, he is 40 and doing so well. Going by his age, I have some nine more years. I have not faced any fitness issues in my career. I always work hard on my fitness and play club cricket. The domestic season is starting in 20 days. I look to perform in it and hopefully will make a comeback.
Who do you rate as the best captain?
Of all the captains I have played under, Inzamam-ul-Haq was the best. My career’s best three years were under him. He was really a good captain. The thing I liked most about him he used to support youngsters like me and Shoaib Malik. Even Younis Khan was having in and out career but he excelled and progressed under Inzy bhai. So I reckon he was the best captain.
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