Sarfaraz backs Sindh’s solid batting line-up

Youngsters Saud Shakeel and Ramiz Aziz will provide the batting backup to the team

Sarfaraz backs Sindh’s solid batting line-up PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed will lead a strong Sindh squad in the Quaid-e-Azam (QeA) Trophy first-class tournament that begins on Saturday, September 14 at three venues in the country. Sindh take on Balochistan at Karachi’s UBL Sports Complex in their opening fixture.

Sindh possess real strength in their batting line-up which includes some domestic cricket stalwarts in Abid Ali, Fawad Alam and Khurram Manzoor besides the seasoned Pakistan Test batsman Asad Shafiq who is also Sarfaraz’s deputy.  Left-arm batsman Saad Ali, who made his ODI debut against Australia earlier in the year, is another accomplished batsman.

Saad scored a match winning double century for State Bank in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy Grade II tournament a few days after his ODI debut.

Sindh’s opening pair is likely to be Khurram Manzoor and the Lahore-born Abid. In 102 first-class appearances, the 31-year-old Abid has scored 6700 runs at 38.28, the tally includes 17 centuries. Abid scored a century on his debut ODI against Australia in Dubai, becoming only the third Pakistan opener to achieve the feat.

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Khurram, who has represented Pakistan in 16 Tests, has scored 10166 runs in 162 first-class matches with 26 centuries to his name. Sindh possess one of the strongest middle-orders in the tournament with Asad, Fawad and Saad backed up by Sarfaraz himself in his role of wicketkeeper-batsman.

Asad has featured in 69 Tests for Pakistan scoring 4323 runs at 38.94, he has an abundance of experience in first-class cricket with a total of 138 matches, 8638 runs with 22 centuries.

Sindh’s batting is likely to revolve around left-handed Fawad Alam who boasts a 56.08 average from 155 first-class matches in which he has scored 11441 runs with 30 centuries. Fawad scored a century on his Test debut against Sri Lanka in 2009.

Sarfaraz will also be a real force with the bat in the lower-order. Youngsters Saud Shakeel, Ramiz Aziz, Omair Bin Yousuf and Shehzar Mohammad will provide the batting backup to Sindh.

Sindh’s fast bowling will be spearheaded by young pace sensation Mohammad Hasnain who has so far appeared in five ODIs and a solitary T20I for Pakistan. Hasnain, who can bowl in the 150kph range, is set to be Sarfaraz’s trump card along with seasoned bowlers Sohail Khan and Tabish Khan.

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In 100 first-class games, the right-arm pacer Sohail has taken 449 wickets, while Tabish has been one of the major first-class performers over the last decade. The 34-year-old has a tally of 543 wickets in 118 matches with the help of 36 five-wicket hauls.

Left-armer Mir Hamza who made his Test debut against Australia last year adds further variety to the pace attack, Sindh also have two competent spinners in left-armer Kashif Bhatti and off-spinner Waleed Ahmed.

Pakistan all-rounder Anwar Ali is also a part of the squad and Sindh would be banking on the 31-year-old with 100 first-class appearances to lend stability to the eleven.

Sarfaraz is happy with the balance of his squad and feels Sindh have the talent, skill and experience to with the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy 2019-20.

“It is a balanced squad with some very seasoned players. The first priority would be to make the team gel together. We have some experienced bowlers backed by Mohammad Hasnain, who has the ability to bowl with sustained pace which will be very useful in four-day cricket and it will be an ideal learning curve for him,” he said.

Speaking about the team’s batting, he said: “We have a very solid batting line-up with Khurram Manzoor, Abid Ali, Saad Ali, Asad Shafiq, Saud Shakeel and Fawad Alam, while Omair Bin Yousuf is also a very promising player. Shehzar did very well last year.”

 “We will take every game as it comes, obviously start is very important and a good start will help us gain some momentum,” he added.

Sindh Second XI

The Sindh Cricket Association’s Second XI side will be led and mentored by Mohammad Sami. It includes international cricketers Rameez Raja junior and Rumman Raees, whose availability is subject to fitness.

Sami, who featured in 36 Tests, 87 ODIs and 13 T20Is for Pakistan, possesses abundance of first-class experience. He has 179 matches to his name in which the 38-year-old has taken 610 wickets at 27.35.

Sami will have the promising left-armer Ghulam Muddasar and the experienced right-armer Adeel Malik as his fast-bowling partners.

Youngsters Ammad Alam, Ahsan Ali, Danish Aziz and Jahid Ali will be the batting mainstays along with Rameez.

Sindh take on Balochistan in their tournament opener from September 14 at the NBP Stadium in Karachi.