November 26, 2009

Salman looking for yet other opportunity


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

An enterprising left-handed opener, Salman Butt now looks for yet another opportunity to make a comeback in the playing eleven. He was recalled for the tour of New Zealand but was omitted from the line-up for the first Test at Dunedin.

He has been in and out of the national team due to his inconsistency top of the order. While there has never been any doubt about his class but his tendency to throw it away after having been in the middle for sometime has often got him and his team in trouble.

The 25-year-old highly gifted fellow seems to have plenty of steam left in him but he needs to work harder to grab the opportunities coming his way.

His work is now cut out with so much competition around. He needs to improve his figures in international cricket. He is probably more talented batsman than his averages of 28.65 in Tests and 37.95 in One-day Internationals seem to suggest.

The most heartening thing, however, is that he did realize the significance of scoring heavily in domestic cricket and he has had fierce determination to do it. He made the right choice of sticking to the basics and not incorporating changes in his technique that could land him in hot waters.

Since Pakistan would be playing all their matches outside of the country the batsmen are likely to be put to stiffer test on the pitches of New Zealand, Australia and England. It would obviously keep the reserve batsmen on their toes as they could be pressed into service at a short notice.

Salman knows better than many how quickly life could change at the top. After having scored prolifically in 2008, he was the man to have posted a brilliant century against Sri Lanka in the first One-day International at the National Stadium, Karachi, earlier this year. He was being talked about as another Saeed Anwar after his superlative batting performance against a potent bowling attack.

Not many people would have expected him to be dropped from the side barely few months later. He was taken to Sri Lanka but was sidelined after his double failure in the opening Test in Galle where Pakistan succumbed to an astonishing 50-run defeat. He was not recalled for the subsequent ODI series and ignored for the Champions Trophy.

Born at Lahore on October 7, 1984, he caught the imagination of the movers and shakers of the game at age-level matches. He was still a teenager at the time of making his Test debut against Bangladesh in 2003-04. The youngster showed enormous promise from the outset and he made it to the ODI time the following season.

He hit headlines by scoring a magnificent match-winning century against India in the one-off ODI at Eden Gardens, Kolkata, in 2004-05. He scaled greater heights by blasting a fifty and a maiden Test century in Sydney against Australia later the same season.

He got a wake up call when sidelined after a few low scores with the fingers being pointed at his defensive technique. He silenced his critics, however, by scoring consistently in the home series against England in 2005-06.

The loss of form took him out of the side and he was not a part of Pakistan’s dismal campaign in the World Cup 2007. He staged a comeback soon afterwards, with the additional responsibility of vice-captain. That was a time when he was being talked about as the future captain of Pakistan.


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