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Rumman spoke about the disappointment of missing out for the Asia Cup and World Twenty20 and looked forward to the upcoming IT20 series against the West Indies after being selected in the 15-man squad.
 
By Amir Husain (18th September, 2016)
 
The dismal performances by Pakistan in the recently concluded series against England served as a stark reminder of the gulf in quality between the top nations and the current Pakistan team in the Limited-Overs formats. The only ray of sunshine that appeared in this gloom was the comprehensive victory in the one-off game at Old Trafford where the Pakistan IT20 side trounced England by nine wickets to end the tour on a high-note. 

More importantly, though, this IT20 victory would have done wonders for the confidence of the Pakistan team as they look forward to their next assignment which is a three match ‘home’ series in the UAE against the reigning Twenty20 Champions, West Indies. Contrary to the age old cricket adage of never changing a winning combination, the Pakistan selectors perhaps recognising the importance of the upcoming series have named a fifteen-man squad which includes the name of the twenty-four-year-old Rumman Raees who did not feature in the one-off game against England.

In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, Rumman spoke about his impressions of interacting with the legendary Wasim Akram in the Pakistan Super League (PSL), disappointment of missing out for the Asia Cup and World Twenty20 and looked forward to the upcoming IT20 series against the West Indies.

The opportunity to meet one of the legends of cricket would excite many but Rumman Raees has had the distinct honour of playing in a team under the guidance of the great Wasim Akram during the PSL in 2016. This is an experience which he like anyone else in his position, would cherish forever as he remarked “The PSL was a great experience for me as I got to play alongside some top names in international cricket. It was fascinating and very useful for me to see how these players prepared themselves for games as well as how they conducted themselves on and off the field. However, what was invaluable for me as a player was that I got to work for close to sixteen days with a player of the stature of Wasim Akram. He gave me advice on my bowling but it was usually I who was asking the questions such as on swing bowling which was simply excellent. Working with Wasim Akram at the PSL was a career changing moment." 

The fantastic news in February 2016 that Rumman had been selected for two important tournaments based upon his success in the PSL soon turned into disappointment for the young fast-bowler as it emerged that he had suffered a hamstring strain and would not participate in the Asia Cup and World Twenty20 tournaments. To Rumman, missing out on such an opportunity was a great setback but one he took on the chin as he recalled “There is absolutely no doubt that coming so close to participating in two major tournaments and then being denied that opportunity due to reasons beyond one’s control was a big shock to the system. But I knew that injuries were part and parcel of any sportsman’s career and instead of feeling sorry for myself or expecting sympathy from others, it was up to me to persist with hard work and prove my suitability to the selectors in the future.”

With the trauma of missing possibly career defining tournaments now consigned to history, Rumman then steadied himself and put his efforts in impressing selectors so that he could get another shot at proving his suitability for the national squad. The recently concluded National Twenty20 Cup therefore presented an ideal opportunity for Rumman which he grabbed with both hands.

“I had to put the disappointments of the past behind me and show anyone who was watching that I had the skills and fitness in me to be the best. In that sense, the National Twenty20 Cup has been an excellent opportunity for me as I have bowled very well where I represented the winners Karachi Blues and picked up nine wickets in the tournament. It was also good that the national selectors, including the Chief Selector Inzamam-ul-Haq were present at some of the games I played and saw for themselves the progress I had made during this competition. I am glad that this hard work has borne fruit with the announcement of my name in the fifteen-man squad for the upcoming series against the West Indies.”

Whilst the West Indies in Tests may not be the force they used to be in the past, the fact remains that they are the team to beat when it comes to the shorter forms of the game and it will take a performance of some magnitude for Pakistan to dent the confidence of the visiting side who were crowned twice as World Twenty20 Champions in 2012 and 2016. For Rumman Raees the upcoming tour is a stiff challenge but one he is looking forward to as he explained “The West Indies are a top class team. Each of the players in that team can pretty much take the game away from you so in terms of targets, each of the West Indies batsmen will need to be considered a threat. I have been watching some videos of West Indies players and have been planning some tactics but they have a dangerous line-up where each batsman can hit you for fours and sixes with ease. Fact is that we can plan as much as we like but things may or may not go according to our planning on the field and all that matters is that one puts in the hard work that is needed. The rest is up to the Almighty”

For Rumman Raees the IT20 series against a strong team such as the West Indies represents an ideal opportunity to prove his mettle to the selectors and pay them back for the trust they have put in his abilities. He fully understands that a good performance in the series could provide help him establish a place in the Pakistan team, an objective he has little doubts of achieving “I have worked hard and trained well with my fitness at its best so far and I am sure that the selectors have taken that into account when selecting me for this series. On top of that I have played against England Lions and also took part in the PSL which gives me a unique perspective on how to bowl on the pitches in the UAE where pace is not present and the variation is the key. My aim, if given a chance, is to avail this opportunity and put in good performances for Pakistan and establish a place in the team, God Willing”, he concluded.