THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, KARACHI, 03rd OCTOBER 2013: Zulfiqar Babar, who is yet to make his Test debut, was under the limelight on the opening day of the three-day practice match between Chief Minister XI and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman XI.
The format has been dubbed as the litmus test for players ahead of the final squad selection for the upcoming series against South Africa.
Representing the PCB Chairman’s XI, the left-arm spinner claimed a six-wicket haul, conceding 22 runs, as Chief Minister XI were dismissed for just 90 all out in 34.2 overs.
Chief Minister XI were uneasy since the time Younus Khan elected to bat first. Younus replaced Misbahul Haq as captain after the Pakistan skipper was rested in the game by the team management.
Sohaib Maqsood (29) and Faisal Iqbal (20) were the top scorers, as nearly all the batsmen struggled against Babar’s form. Khurram Manzoor had the misfortune of being run out for zero.
Among the spinner’s victims were Younus (nine), Akbarur Rehman (11), Adnan Akmal (two), Mohammad Rizwan (zero), Wahab Riaz (17) and Maqsood.
“It is the result of the hard work I did with bowling coach Mohammad Akram,” the 34-year old said after the fiery show.
“If selected [for South Africa series], I will not disappoint. I have gained a lot of confidence with this performance.”
Babar, who stepped onto the international stage successfully with the Twenty20s against the West Indies, stated that the longer version has been his strength.
“Twenty20 is a different game. I’ve been performing well in four-day matches at the domestic level which is why I have more confidence in the longer format.”
Hafeez unimpressive in first-innings
The PCB Chairman’s XI built a lead of 44 runs, finishing the opening day at 134 for three in 49 overs.
Azhar Ali remained unbeaten on 48, and will open the second day’s proceedings with Asad Shafiq, who is batting on 15.
Earlier, Ahmed Shahzad was dismissed by fast-bowler Rahat Ali on 37. Mohammad Hafeez, whose performance is being closely monitored by the selection committee, failed to impress, succumbing on 22. His wicket was picked by Abdur Rehman. Meanwhile, captain Umar Amin was run out on eight runs.
Azhar, who stood as the best batsman on the day, was happy with his performance.
“This match is a good opportunity for us since net practice on its own does not serve the purpose,” he said.
He further stated that South Africa are a top side and special efforts will be required to cope with the opposition.
“They are the top team for a reason and we will have to work hard. Our target will be to impose a big total.”