In his latest blog for PakPassion.net, Pakistan all-rounder Yasir Arafat writes about some of the much talked about players in the ongoing National One-day cup tournament including Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, looks at a couple of players who have impressed him in this season’s domestic circuit, and assesses the quality of the cricket in the National One-day cup
By Yasir Arafat (23rd January, 2016)
Sadaf is a much improved and totally different bowler these days. He’s picked up a yard of pace and is bowling consistently over 80 mph, around 83 or 84 mph. He’s a tall man and gains extra bounce from even the placid surfaces of Karachi which can trouble most batsmen. He bowled really well against my team Rawalpindi where he took five wickets but he has also been consistent throughout the National One-Day cup taking wickets in every match he has played in. I’m surprised that he’s not been picked for at least the Pakistan A team as I think he deserves that opportunity due to his performances and consistency in domestic cricket. If the criteria to be selected for the Pakistan team is to perform in domestic cricket then Sadaf definitely deserves a chance. In the past people have questioned his lack of pace but this season he looks stronger and definitely a quicker bowler than in previous years. He's performed well for the last three or four years and the Pakistani selectors should give him a chance. I think if he can work a bit on his fielding and batting, then he can definitely go on and play for Pakistan.
To me he looks like a compact batsman who has all the attributes to do well in domestic cricket and then go on and play international cricket. However I think it would be too soon to throw him into international cricket. Pick him for Pakistan A tours and see how he performs and let him mature in domestic cricket first and score heavily there. Watching him bat, he seems to have all the shots and he has a good head on his shoulders and looks like a player who has patience and can build an innings well. He’s definitely one to keep an eye on and I think if he continues to improve he could go on and play for Pakistan.
I played against Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt recently and both of them impressed me particularly given they have not played any first-class cricket for five years. Watching Asif, nothing much has changed, he still swung and seamed the new ball around and put the ball in the right areas consistently which has always been his strength. His pace is around the same, but he’s obviously never been a bowler who was very quick and never relied on speed to confuse opponents. He will obviously be a little rusty due to lack of cricket but I think he’ll be back to his best after a full season in domestic cricket. When you’ve not played cricket for five years, particularly a bowler it doesn’t matter how good you are or experienced you are, it will take some time for you to reach the standard you once were. Give Asif a few more months and he will undoubtedly be back to his best.
I was very impressed with Salman’s batting. He scored around 30 against Rawalpindi but he was batting fluently. It seemed like despite having only played a few domestic matches so far he was in good shape. He looked fit, was moving his feet nicely and timing the ball well. It didn't look to me like here was a player who had been away from cricket for five years. I think if he continues his good form it’s only a matter of time before the selectors pick him for Pakistan again. Technically he looked good, his form has been impressive and his fitness levels look very good. However he’s another who will benefit from a full season in domestic cricket and we may see him in even better form in the second season. He's still good enough to play for Pakistan.
Two to watch
I’ve been very impressed with Zain Abbas of KRL. He looks a very promising batsman and has a fine array of shots. His defence looked solid and his attacking stroke play was excellent. He scored a century against us and really impressed me. He's a batsman who has scored runs in four-day cricket and looks a quality cricketer to me. I think the Pakistani selectors should keep an eye on this batsman as I believe he is definitely one for the future.
Also Altaf Ahmed the Habib Bank medium fast bowler impressed me. He's good with the new ball and also bowls some excellent yorkers with the old ball at a good pace.
Our batting has really struggled so far this season not only in the fifty-over format but also in the four-day format. We've simply not been good enough and we need to have a long hard look at the cricket we have played, especially in the batting department and look to improve in future.
National One-Day Cup
The tournament has been split between two venues, Karachi and Rawalpindi. In Karachi where we have been playing the wickets have largely been batting-friendly and in Rawalpindi the scores have been much lower than in Karachi, as the pitches have been seamer-friendly. Conditions in Karachi are a lot drier and the weather has been hot and humid so the batsmen have flourished. I guess it's a good opportunity for the bowlers to learn when they are playing in Karachi and likewise it's a good test for the batsmen who are playing in the half of the competition which is based in Rawalpindi.