KARACHI: Just days after earning a maiden call-up in the Test squad against West Indies, Pakistan middle-order batsman Usman Salahuddin has said that he is looking forward to grab this opportunity and establish himself in the team for good. The 26-year-old, who appeared in just two ODIs for Pakistan since his debut in 2011, spoke about the golden opportunity to establish himself as a replacement for the retiring Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan and also praised the national selectors for noticing the hard work that he had put in the domestic level.
First of all, I am grateful to the almighty that I have been given another opportunity to play for Pakistan and have been selected for the Test squad for the West Indies tour. It is indeed a great honour for me to be asked to play for my country. It is equally exciting to be in the same squad as such great players like Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan and I am sure this will be a great learning opportunity for me as well. I am looking forward to grabbing this opportunity with both hands and establishing myself in the team for good,” Pak passion quoted Salahuddin as saying.
Salahuddin was selected for the first time in the Test team after failing in the two one-day internationals on his side’s tour of West Indies in 2011. Reflecting on the same, the middle-order batsman admitted that he was never disappointed to be axed from the national squad because he had a belief on his abilities. It was a long wait to make a comeback in the national squad but I was never disheartened and kept on believing in my abilities. I worked hard with the belief that one day I will get another chance to represent Pakistan again. I have been performing consistently well in domestic cricket for the past few years and I was confident that it was just a matter of time before I was asked to represent Pakistan again,” he said.
Although it would have been easier for Salahuddin to wallow in self-pity after being ignored by the national selectors, he instead got busy to learn and improve his game with an aim to gain the national selectors’ attention. I worked hard in the intervening five years since my international debut. I played league cricket in England on seaming tracks, which gave me good exposure in foreign conditions. In the process, I also ironed out my problems against swing bowling which was great. With the experience of playing fast-bowlers in England, I found it much easier to play similar bowling in the domestic season in Pakistan and my performances are a reflection of that,” he said. Talking about his objective in the upcoming Test series, Salahuddin said that he would try his level best to prove that his selection was entirely based on his performances. The middle-order added that he would also try to make the cricketing world realize that a good player needs at least one or two series before one can judge their true worth to the team.
My first objective is to prove to all that my selection is based purely upon my performances and this is not a fluke. But then in international cricket, it is not simply a matter of one or two games where a player should feel that he has to justify his selection. If my chance comes I want to grab it with both hands. At this level of the game, a player needs to be developed into the finished product. Just because a batsman has had one bad innings does not mean that he should be discarded. Any good player needs at least one or two series before one can judge their true worth to the team, he explained. Pakistan is slated to play three-match series against West Indies, beginning April 22 in Barbados.