A profile of 24 year-old, left-handed batting all-rounder Danish Aziz, who recently made waves in the 2020 National T20 Cup with several impressive performances for Sindh.
By Amir Husain (24th October, 2020)
Full name: Danish Aziz
Born: November 20, 1995, Karachi
Height: 6 ft
Major teams: Pakistan Under-19s, Karachi Kings, Quetta Gladiators, Sindh
Playing role: All-rounder
Batting style: Left-hand bat
Bowling style: Slow left-arm orthodox
Interest in cricket
My interest in cricket developed due to my brothers playing cricket at a good level. In fact, one of my brothers, Maroof Aziz, has represented PIA in first-class cricket, and watching him play at that level was inspiration enough for me to play this game. I learned a lot from my brothers and also made sure that I did not make the same mistakes they made as they went through their careers. Of course, like all youngsters, I started playing tape ball cricket and then progressed to hard-ball cricket as time wore on. I was also fortunate that along with my brothers, my father was also very supportive of my passion for cricket, and many times, he would even ask me to skip school if it clashed with any of my matches.
Education has been a priority throughout my cricket career
It was always a struggle to keep up with studies due to my commitments to cricket, but I didn’t give up on my education. I could not attend regular school so have continued my education in private and am currently enrolled in a Masters of Health and Physical Education program at Karachi University.
Special thanks to the Memon community in Karachi
It would be absolutely remiss of me to not mention and thank the Memon community in Karachi who have provided moral and financial help to me during my formative years in cricket. I would not be where I am today without their help and I am proud to be a member of this community.
First-class debut in 2014 for Karachi Dolphins
I had been part of the Pakistan Under-19s squad which played against Afghanistan in 2014 and was about to be part of the Under-19 tour of Kenya, with an eye towards the Under-19 World Cup in 2016. However, I was told that I would be overage for the Under-19 World Cup so instead of taking part in the tour of Kenya, I was asked to play in a first-class game for Karachi Dolphins which happened to be the last match of the season, and that allowed me to make my debut at that level.
The aim is to become a genuine all-rounder but to bat well is my priority
It would be great if I could be considered a genuine all-rounder but I am a little worried that concentrating on my bowling could affect my batting, which is my first priority. In last year’s domestic season, I had a total of 25 wickets to my name whilst playing for 2nd XIs in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and the National T20 Cup but my batting was suffering and I was seeing even the wicket-keeper being sent in before I could bat in a match. So, the idea is to concentrate on batting and become a dependable batsman, and where possible and if needed, also help out with bowling.
Unsatisfactory performances in domestic cricket until 2020
It’s difficult to put a finger on why I could not perform that well for the last few years in domestic cricket but that could be because I was asked to bat too late in the batting order which didn’t give me much of a chance to perform. But there was also an issue with my attitude as I was very careless where I would get out taking unnecessary risks which did affect my average too. But all that changed for me this year as I felt that I was a much more mature cricketer. This allowed me to take the match to the last ball instead of losing patience just because a high run rate was needed and then playing a rash shot after a rush of blood. There was a belief in me this year that even if there were 10-15 runs needed in the final over, I had the skills to achieve that target and there was no need to panic. This change in mindset has made the difference.
Confidence-boosting performances at the National T20 Cup in 2020
This was an amazing experience for me to be in the same Sindh team as some top names of our national cricket side. Of course, being new to the first XI side, there was a matter of gaining trust from our team management and to be honest, it did take time and I wasn’t played in a few games or sent in late towards the end of the innings in the matches I did play. I was, however, lucky that I had some good advice from the seniors which allowed me to build my confidence which ended up in that match-winning performance of 59* against Central Punjab. But the innings which I enjoyed most was the 72* which was against the eventual tournament winners, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. I recall telling Anwar Ali to make sure he didn’t give his wicket away as I felt we could win that game which we did eventually. With such confidence-boosting performances under my belt, I continued to do well for Sindh until our participation ended in the semi-final.
Missing the crowd in the National T20 Cup
Playing in a tense game and with no crowd present was a strange feeling. In fact, at times in evening games, you could hear crickets chirping away very loudly during the innings which was very disconcerting. As a batsman, you probably don’t mind the absence of crowds as they generally support the bowler who is running in to bowl but for the sake of the game in general, one hopes that the grounds will be alive with sounds of raucous crowds as soon as conditions allow.
Not disappointed about missing out on selection for the limited-overs series against Zimbabwe
Whilst many felt that I had a chance of representing Pakistan in the home series against Zimbabwe, my view was that this series came a little too soon as far as my career is concerned. Ideally, I would like to perform well a few more times before making a debut for Pakistan. This is because if I did get a chance to play for my country, I would be better equipped to establish myself and not play in a few matches and then disappear from the scene, as we have seen in the case of a few players in the past.
Consider myself ideal for the finisher role
There is something very satisfying in chasing a target and then making sure that I take the team over the line to win the game. So, I am very happy to play in the side as a finisher and hopefully, my recent performances in the National T20 Cup have shown that I am capable of taking on this role. This is also the role I would like to take on whenever I am given a chance to represent Pakistan.
Yuvraj Singh as my role model
I always look to the former Indian all-rounder Yuvraj Singh as my role model. I admire his style of stroke-play and really like his balance and technique. It’s not just his batting but I also try and copy his style of bowling as well.
Aspirations to represent Pakistan A with the Shaheens
I am currently involved in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy for 2nd XIs so I am concentrating on making sure that I can put in some solid performances but looking ahead, I have my eyes firmly on a place in the Pakistan A side which is expected to tour New Zealand later this year. All my energies now will be aimed at that short-term goal and even though no one in the team management has spoken to me about this tour, I am hoping that I will get a chance to be part of that tour.
Looking at Pakistan Super League (PSL) as a pathway to represent Pakistan
I have been part of the Karachi Kings and Quetta Gladiators squads in previous editions of the PSL but could never get a proper opportunity to showcase my talent. This year, based upon my performances at the National T20 Cup, I am hoping that I will get the sort of exposure that will allow my name to be noticed more and that could be a pathway for my chance to represent Pakistan. Of course, every young cricketer has a dream of playing for their country but I know that all these things will happen at the right time and I need to work hard and wait patiently for my opportunity.