BY KAUKAB AZHAR
Recently, Sami Aslam publicly expressed his disappointment over not being selected in the 35-member squad for the New Zealand tour. Some news sources have claimed that he might be moving away to the US after losing hope in the system in Pakistan.
Aslam was part of the Under 19 World Cups in 2012 and 2014. In 2014, he captained the side which reached the finals. Sami is the second-highest run-scorer in the Under 19 format, scoring 6 centuries in 40 games at an average of 45. His impressive performances at the Under 19 level handed him international ODI and Test caps in 2015 against Bangladesh. In the next three years, he played 13 tests and 4 ODIs.
In the domestic circuit, Aslam has been particularly good in List A cricket, scoring 11 centuries in 81 games at an average of 49. However, he failed to impress in the four ODIs (one against Bangladesh and three against England).
On the other hand, it was his test performances that showed some glimpses of the talent that he possessed. In thirteen test matches, Aslam managed to score seven fifties at an average of 31.58. Although the numbers are not that impressive the situation in which Aslam showed resolve and technique stood out. It was his temperament that was applauded by cricket experts which gave hope to the fans of finding a genuine test opener.
Two performances in his international career showed what Aslam was capable of at the top level. First, against England in England, he scored 82 and 70 runs in a losing cause in the third test at Birmingham. Second, Aslam and Azhar batted for 60 overs on the last day at Hamilton against a top-quality bowling line-up of New Zealand. Pakistan managed to lose the test, thanks to a late collapse in the final session, Aslam’s 91 runs going in vain.
Other than that Aslam has been inconsistent with his performances and missed out on several opportunities against easy oppositions in batting-friendly conditions. Besides, his fielding and fitness also had let him down, especially when Mickey Arthur was trying to establish a different culture in the team.
Was there a way back? It seems like Aslam’s decision is premature and emotional. There are not many openers in the domestic circuit who have the technique to deal with top quality bowling line-up. Shan Masood is a regular in the side but two to three series without performances can easily result in getting dropped. Abid Ali and Imam-ul-Haq are struggling to get a regular place. Khurram Manzoor does not seem to have the trust of selectors. Aslam had a good chance of making a comeback.