With just two First Class games to his name for National Bank of Pakistan, Mohammad Asghar has been fast-tracked into the Pakistan A Squad that will play against the visiting England team in the UAE.
In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, the teenage spin bowler spoke about his interest in spin bowling and development of his career, his feelings about facing top quality batsmen in the visiting England squad and his aspirations for the future.
By Farid Khan (4th October, 2015)
PakPassion.net : Pakistan has a fine tradition of producing fast bowlers. What made you want to become a spinner?
Mohammad Asghar : No doubt, Pakistan has produced excellent fast bowlers like Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, but when I was still young, I always wanted to copy Abdul Qadir and Iqbal Qasim. They used to be my inspiration and when I started playing cricket and when I grew a little older, Rangana Herath and Robin Peterson caught my eye and that was when I made up my mind to pursue my career in the left-arm spin department.
The role of a left-arm spinner is not easy. We have to contain runs and spin the ball with our fingers, which is an art in itself. Having said that, I do believe the future, in terms of fast bowling, is safe, with the likes of Zia-ul-Haq, Mir Hamza and other youngsters training hard at the National Cricket Academy and putting in efforts to become better players.
PakPassion.net : Tell us about your introduction to cricket and how did you start playing?
Mohammad Asghar : As most of the youngsters in Pakistan would tell you, I also started from street cricket. I used to play just near my house with a few friends, and gradually my interest in the sport took a rise, so I decided to play club cricket. I joined a local academy in Karachi, where I was supported by Iqbal Qasim and Iqbal Patel. I got a chance to play for National Bank, where I was able to perform. I took 9 wickets on my first class debut and also played for Rawalpindi in the National T20 Cup, where my performance was satisfactory. I have also played regional Under 19 cricket, but couldn’t play for the Pakistan Under 19s. Recently, I have been named in the Pakistan A squad to face England.
PakPassion.net : How did you get spotted and by whom?
Mohammad Asghar : I played club cricket in Karachi, where the coach Bashir spotted me. I played the final of a district tournament, where I bowled a few overs and impressed the coaches, who referred me to the National Cricket Academy and then I got my opportunity to represent National Bank, where I was ably supported by Iqbal Qasim.
PakPassion.net : Rawalpindi seem to be a nearly team. What went wrong at the Haier T20?
Mohammad Asghar : Our batsmen just couldn’t click in the tournament. We had so many big names, but all of them struggled. We were unable to post big scores on the board. We had a match against Sialkot, on a pitch where 180-190 was a par score and we failed to achieve a target of 170. This sums up our batting fiasco. I am satisfied with my own performance, though. It was not great and not up to the standards I set, but it was not too bad either.
PakPassion.net : What was it like playing alongside Mohammad Amir?
Mohammad Asghar : Mohammad Amir is still an excellent bowler and showed glimpses of the past. Obviously, making a comeback after five years is not easy and finding the lost touch is equally hard. It will take him another year probably before he’s back to his very best once again. He is certainly good enough to replace the current pace bowlers. As far as my experience with him is concerned, I can say that I learned a lot from him.
PakPassion.net : Are you geared up to playing against England in UAE for Pakistan A?
Mohammad Asghar : I am really glad that I’ve got this opportunity to represent Pakistan A against England and I am looking forward to it. As Misbah-ul-Haq said, either Zafar Gohar or I could get a chance against them in the Test squad. I know I need to work very hard to make that happen. If that happens, I will gain much needed exposure by being associated with the national team. I realize the English batsmen are not very good at playing spin bowling, so that’s one thing I will be having in the back of my mind when I take the field for Pakistan A.
PakPassion.net : Are you looking forward to dismissing any England batsman?
Mohammad Asghar : Yes, I’d love to get the wicket of Joe Root. He’s a complete player and one of the best batsmen in the world right now. He’s a big name for English cricket and it would be great seeing the back of him. I also have a few other players as my target since England has a very strong batting lineup and I want to test myself against the very best in the game.
PakPassion.net : How do you see your short first class career so far?
Mohammad Asghar : I got nine wickets on my debut and I have taken fifteen wickets in total so far in the two matches I have played. These are encouraging statistics and I am looking forward to playing more matches in Karachi, where the tracks assist spin bowling more than they do in the province of Punjab. The competitiveness of first class cricket has risen. We have very fine batsmen such as Khurram Manzoor, Shahid Yousuf and Usman Salahuddin in our domestic circuit, so I am looking forward to bowling against them.
PakPassion.net : What are your plans and hopes for the future?
Mohammad Asghar : Every player sets some goals and targets before the season starts. My target always is to be among the top performers. I always try my best to achieve it, but it is up to luck as well. In the upcoming season first-class season, I’ll make an attempt to bag fifty to sixty wickets.