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Zain Abbas keen to continue rich vein of form despite Zimbabwe tour snub

Left-hand batsman finished the 2020/21 QeA Trophy season with the highest batting average (45.92) among openers

Zain Abbas keen to continue rich vein of form despite Zimbabwe tour snub PHOTO COURTESY: PCB

Southern Punjab opener Zain Abbas is keen to continue his rich vein of form despite being overlooked for Pakistan’s upcoming two-match Test series against Zimbabwe in April.

During the 2020/21 Quaid-e-Azam (QeA) Trophy season, where the overall average of openers was only 29.55, Zain finished with the highest batting average (45.92) among openers.

While speaking in an exclusive interview with Cricket Pakistan, the left-hand opener said he was prepared to perform this season after missing out on cricket for two years due to injury

“I am happy that I have performed really well this season. I was hungry for runs because I didn’t get a chance in Southern Punjab’s first XI last year. I had scored two or three centuries during my last stint with Pakistan ‘A’ team as well, but then got injured and fractured my ankle. So there was also hunger because I missed two years of cricket,” said Zain.

“The Southern Punjab team management also supported me a lot as I had done really well in the second XI tournament last season. They gave me an opportunity and I availed it. I hope my next season is even better,” he added.

With Pakistan openers struggling in the home series against South Africa, Zain was hoping to be called up for Pakistan’s next Test tour as he enjoys a favourable record in Zimbabwe.

The 29-year-old was the highest run-scorer during Pakistan’s ‘A’ team tour to Zimbabwe in 2016, accumulating 268 runs in two unofficial Test matches.

“I was hopeful for selection [for Zimbabwe tour] or at least to be invited for the Pakistan training camp because I had the highest average among openers in QeA Trophy this season. I think selectors know better than us. What is in your destiny, you will get one day. If it is in my destiny, then I will get the chance,” he said.

However, the Kabirwala-born cricketer was not even considered for the 24-member training camp organised for top domestic performers at the National High Performance Centre earlier this month.

What makes his non-selection even more baffling is that most of his performances this season have come against the likes of Hasan Ali, Tabish Khan and Shahnawaz Dahani, who are part of the Test squad.

“It feels great when you perform against good bowlers. I have this mindset that if I am able to perform against quality attacks, only then I should consider myself good enough for the next level. If you can’t perform against quality bowling in domestic, then you can’t face international level bowlers either,” he said.

Selectors might be circumspect due to Zain’s first-class average of 32.90. However, the Southern Punjab opener attributes it to playing most of his matches during the early part of his career at the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) Cricket Ground.

“My overall average in four-day cricket is on the lower side because a lot of matches that I played early on were at KRL ground, where pitches are bowler-friendly. If I had played those matches in Karachi or Lahore, my average would have been around 40,” he said.

“I was really aggressive when I started my cricket, but had to adjust my game according to the conditions at KRL ground. 170 used to be a good total there in List A. That has also contributed in my strike-rate being a little low in white-ball cricket,” he concluded.

NOTE: The author tweets at @zaidhassan89