Five Pak cricketers excited to mark ODI return in Karachi

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LAHORE: Pakistan’s ODI series against Sri Lanka in Karachi, which commences Friday, marks return of five players to the national squad.

They are Abid Ali, the right-handed opener, Iftikhar Ahmed, an all-rounder who bats in the middle order and bowls off-spin, Mohammad Nawaz, a slow left-arm bowler, Mohammad Rizwan, wicketkeeper-batsman, and Usman Shinwari, left-arm fast-bowler.

With this series being an international season-opener for Pakistan, the hosts look to come out all-guns blazing to secure the winning momentum before they play Australia Down Under.

The five players are in line to don Pakistan colours again and are excited to take the field in front of the home crowd.

Abid Ali, who marked the beginning of his ODI career with a century against Australia and has played three matches in the format, said: “I have worked hard on my skills and fitness at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore during the off-season. I am thankful to Allah and I am excited that I have been drafted in the squad for a home series, which will be played in Pakistan. I look forward to grabbing this opportunity and making the most of it.”

Iftikhar Ahmed, who played two ODIs for Pakistan against England in the UAE in 2015, said: “I was a bit immature as a player back then when I first played for Pakistan. I had not bowled in competitive cricket that much, but since, I have not only worked on my bowling but on my batting as well.

“I will look to spend more time at the crease and finish the innings for Pakistan as a middle-order batsman. I have learned a lot from Misbah-ul-Haq [Pakistan head coach and chief selector] about the art of middle-order batting. My aim is to prove myself”.

Mohammad Nawaz, who has 14 ODIs under his belt and last turned out for Pakistan in the 2018 Asia Cup, said: “This is a comeback for me and I have worked hard for it. I am hopeful that I will be able to cement my position in the side with consistent performances.

“Home series are very important as they give the support which is necessary for us as players. I have focused on my batting skills so when I am given an opportunity I prove myself as a proper all-rounder. The preparations for the Sri Lanka series are going great.

Mohammad Rizwan, who has played 32 ODIs to date with his last outing coming in March this year, said: “I have been with the national side for the past three years. I always look to leave a mark whenever I get an opportunity, whether it is in international or domestic events. I have put up performances and have been learning a lot from Sarfaraz Ahmed. Both of us look to give our best and help Pakistan win”.

Usman Shinwari, with 15 ODIs in almost two years and his last being in March this year, said: “I will look to bring out my best against Sri Lanka and play the same way as I did in our last series against them. I am thankful to Allah that I am making a comeback in a home series. I have worked on my skills every single day in the past three-four for this opportunity.

“This is going to be an exciting series and I am looking forward to play in Karachi.”