Saif Badar is one of the many young cricketers to watch out for. A part of Multan Sultans this time, he is looking to make his presence felt at the biggest cricketing stage of Pakistan. The youngster is excited to play alongside and under the captaincy of his role-model Shoaib Malik. “I have always followed Shoaib Malik, I love how he bats and especially how he fields. When he used to play club games in Sialkot, even then I used to go to watch him,” Badar said. “I am excited to play alongside him,” he added.
Apart from Pakistan’s star all-rounder, Multan Sultans will also feature big names like Kumar Sangakkara, Kieron Pollard and others, but it is not making him nervous. “It is always exciting to play with big names,” he told. “To play with players whom you have watched on TV, they have performed well all around the world and against all opponents, it is a moment of pride to play with such cricketers.”
Saif Badar started playing cricket in the streets of Sialkot at an early age of 9. Having father’s support behind him, he joined a small academy of the city called Mithu Bhai Academy. The decision of admitting him in the academy was not welcomed by his grandmother, who wanted him to concentrate on his studies. “My father was fond of cricket and he was the one who admitted me to the academy. However, my grandmother wanted me to do studies first,” he called.
The resistance was mainly due to the stagnant progress of Badar in the circuit. He could not make into any club for three years due to his young his. The situation got better when he finally succeeded to earn a call in the U-16 team at an early age of 14.5 years. However, the success was not all that pleasant for the young batsman. “I did not play first three games and it was very disheartening for me. However, in the fourth game, a player had an exam and I was selected in the team, I made the most out of the chance and scored 66, then I became the regular feature of the team,” he told.
Saif Badar, after having a successful run at that level, earned a call for the U-19 camp that featured thirty youngsters. The attendants of the camp played practice matches, where he stood out with his performance with the bat. He was hoping to get selected in the team and he was. But, it was not enough for him to celebrate. “I wanted to make it big, I did not want to be one of many names that played for Pakistan U-19 and then lost somewhere in the crowd. We had matches against New Zealand and Australia ahead of the World Cup, where I did well, which gave me the confidence to perform for my country in the World Cup and I did exactly that,” he added.
“We had a big total to chase of 266, which is huge at the U-19 level, it was probably our highest chase at that level of cricket in World Cup. We were discussing that it is a hard game to win so we will have to give our best. When I went out to bat, I was nervous, but when I middled two deliveries, I got the confidence to do well and went on to finish the game”. The inning was an evidence of the potential this young man has.
Saif Badar was a part of Lahore Qalandars in the second season, but he could not get a game during his stint with them. Now, the young batsman has become a member of the newest part of PSL family, Multan Sultans and he is hoping to put up a good show in the tournament to get highlighted among all the dazzling stars. “I hope I can become a handy player for my team and perform well to stand out in the crowd.”
He is seeing PSL as a grand platform to showcase his talent and get under selectors’ radar. After the introduction of PSL, it has become much easier for players to impress selectors with their skills. “Before PSL era, it would have been quite tough for players to grab selectors’ attention, they have to perform outstandingly at different levels of cricket to knock the doors of the national team. Now, PSL has become a huge platform, a good show in the league can take you closer to the national side,” he expressed.
Badar is not under stress ahead of the glittering league. He is confident, determined to back his skills and play his natural game. “I will look to grab any opportunity that will come my way. I will play my natural game, which is aggressive and it is quite suitable for the format, however, I am always eager to learn, I ask from my seniors, I learn from watching the best batsmen of the world. I have learned that fitness is the key to do well in the T20 cricket,” he concluded.