Right-hand batsman smashed the Pakistan pacer for three sixes in an over during their last encounter
Note: The author tweets at @zaidhassan89
Wicketkeeper-batsman, Muhammad Akhlaq, is excited for his maiden season of HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) and is looking forward to face Shaheen Afridi, when the league resumes in Abu Dhabi, with Islamabad United taking on Lahore Qalandars in the first match.
Akhlaq, who was picked by United in the replacement draft last month, has fond memories of batting against Shaheen, as he smashed the Pakistan pacer for three sixes in an over during his match-winning unbeaten fifty for Central Punjab against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in last year’s National T20 Cup.
“I am very excited for my first PSL. It was my dream for the past five years to get a chance to play in PSL. I am grateful to United for picking me in the draft,” Akhlaq said in an exclusive interview with Cricket Pakistan.
Akhlaq took just 29 balls to reach his fifty in the aforementioned match and hit four boundaries and three sixes during the blistering knock, which earned him the player of the match award.
“I am ready [to face Shaheen again], as I have worked very hard. Shaheen is a world-class bowler. During that match, I was hopeful that I would respond well against Shaheen because of his extra pace. Abdullah Shafique was at the crease with me and I shared this with him. Eventually that is what transpired and I smashed three sixes, which turned out to be a great moment for me,” he recalled.
The 28-year-old also thanked Babar Azam for his guidance, as the Pakistan captain led Central Punjab during the 2020 National T20 Cup.
“I got to learn a lot by playing under the captaincy of Babar. The number of days I spent with him, I kept learning something regarding batting from him. He used to guide me really well,” he said.
Now, the Gujranwala-born cricketer is looking to pick the brains of international batsmen like Colin Munro and Usman Khawaja, who will be playing alongside him for United.
“I will get to learn a lot from them because they have international experience, which is very important for us. I will try to talk to them as much as possible and gather tips from them,” he said.
Akhlaq is likely to compete with fellow wicketkeeper-batsman, Rohail Nazir, for a spot in United’s playing XI. However, he maintains that he is flexible to the team’s requirements.
“I am comfortable batting at any position. I am regularly working on my wicket keeping during practice sessions and ready to play any role for the team,” he said.
“Rohail is like my brother. I wish him well. I have to concentrate on my own effort. We both want to win the trophy for United,” he concluded.