Pakistan, since almost a decade and a half, have been in a consistent struggle to find the right pair of openers for all formats of the game.
An orthodox left-handed batsman, Shan Masood, is one of the selectors’ choices for the Test team opening slot. Shan, 27, pursuing a Sports Sciences degree, is eyeing to grab the opportunity of playing in the upcoming Test series against West Indies and cement his place.
Shan has played nine Tests for Pakistan so far and he has shown the intent and determination to perform, but despite of a couple of impressive innings, he has not lived up to the expectations.
However, the Kuwait-born batsman is focused to score big on the tour.
“A batsman will be judged by his record and for that he will have to score tons of runs consistently,” said Shan while talking exclusively to ARY Sports.
“Commitment and mental strength are pre-requisites for scoring runs and I believe with time they will help me become the player I strive to be,” he added.
The opening batsman had a rather disappointing tour to England after which he was dropped from the team. He had problems facing balls swinging away, but seems to have learned from the mistakes and has tweaked his technique a bit.
“I made changes during the England series which didn’t work and I’ve gone back to the drawing board like I’ve done throughout my life to try and rectify it,” he told.
The young opener believes that as long as you are breathing, you should learn.
“I am a firm believer that learning doesn’t stop till you no longer live and from a cricket point of view it doesn’t stop till you quit playing the game. I will keep doing it whether I do well or whether I don’t because learning and improvement don’t stop till you stop playing,” he added.
Jason Holder had a memorable time in UAE where he grabbed the first five-wicket haul of his international career in a Test against Pakistan.
He can again pose some serious threats to the Men in Green, but the stylish left-handed batsman thinks that the Windies have a decent bowling attack, with some fine spinners in the side.
“It won’t just be about their faster men, they’ve got some good spinners as well. Yes I am ready for whatever comes my way,” he stated.
Youngsters need consistent run with the team to get groomed. If they get in and out of the side, they start lacking confidence and it reflects from their performance. On the other hand, it is also important at players’ end to grab any opportunity that comes their way.
“When the stakes are high you have to grab whatever opportunities you get,” says Shan, who will fill opening slot vacant by suspended Sharjeel Khan.
Though, the fixing-accused batsman was an aggressor at the top of the order, Shan does not believe that he has to fill his shoes.
“Everyone is different in terms of style of play. I also believe it should be more about playing according to the situation rather than the style of play and that’s what I’ll be trying to do,” he told.
‘Playing under Misbah bhai has been a dream come true’
Pakistan’s Test team has been invincible for the past couple of years, they have dominated every team that has toured their second home, UAE.
Moreover, they have challenged teams in the longest format of the game even in their own backyard. Pakistan team was shaken when trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were banned due to their involvement in spot-fixing.
The captaincy band, at that difficult stage, was handed over to Misbah-ul-Haq, at that moment in time, no one thought that he will guide the ‘homeless’ team to rule the world of Test cricket.
During all these difficult years, the veteran duo of Misbah and Younis Khan were the binding force among the players.
They were the backbone of their team and played numerous innings that saved the troops from humiliation.
But, both 42-year old and 39-year recently announced they will call it a day for international cricket after the West Indies tour.
Shan thinks the upcoming tour will be the toughest for them since 2010. “This will be Pakistan’s biggest test in term of dealing with difficult situations since 2010.”
But, the 27-year old is also seeing the brighter side of the picture. “But if we look at the brighter side of things, it gives an opportunity for other players to stand up and make a name for themselves at the highest level,” he added.
Pakistan has not won a Test series till date in the Caribbean, if they manage to claim the series, it will be a fitting gift from the team to the most successful Test skipper of the country.
“It’s a bittersweet moment as it’s also sad to see him go but hopefully we can have him finish his career on a high by being the first Pakistan team to win a series in the West Indies.”
Throughout the years, the Misbah-ul-Haq has inspired many youngsters and his legacy will live for many years to come. Shan feels lucky to play under his leadership and he congratulated his captain for a glorious career.
“Playing under him has been a dream come true and I will savour that for the rest of my life. I’d like to congratulate him on a successful career both as a player and a captain.”