Mohammad Asghar shot to prominence in the Pakistan Super League for KPK with his wicket-taking ability and excellent control. A left-arm spinner who can turn the ball sharply both ways, Asghar appears to have a bright future ahead of him in Pakistan cricket. Speaking exclusively to PakPassion.net, Asghar talked about the Pakistan Super League, the benefit of playing alongside the likes of Darren Sammy, working with Andy Flower and also spoke about the Pakistan Cup and his plans and hopes for the future.
By Amir Husain (2nd May, 2016)
PakPassion.net : What was your experience of playing at the Pakistan Super League (PSL)?
Mohammad Asghar : It was a tremendous experience playing in such a high profile tournament. What was most exciting for me was to play alongside some big names in international cricket which included players and coaches from all over the world. To share the dressing room with such top players from Pakistan and other parts of the world was very special and I did learn a lot from that. I cannot tell you how amazing that was and still feel proud that I was part of such a tournament. I know that many others wanted to take part in the PSL but could not so I feel very fortunate that I was picked up by Peshawar Zalmi for their team.
PakPassion.net : What was it like playing alongside international players like Darren Sammy, Shaun Tait and Brad Hodge?
Mohammad Asghar : The advice and attention I got from these players was very special and just the time they took to talk to me was very much appreciated. In fact Darren Sammy gave me some very specific comments about my diet and fitness. He told me that hard-work is important in any cricketer’s work life but the role of having the right diet is crucial as it effects fitness as well. What really impressed me was the interest they took in me. Brad Hodge and Darren Sammy, in particular, came up to me at the beginning of the tournament and told me that that they had heard a lot of good things about me before PSL and had been very impressed by my reputation. They also told me that I was a great prospect and my progress was very important for the future of Pakistan cricket. Of course when such experienced players compliment you like that, you cannot help being filled with pride which I am until today.
PakPassion.net : As a young player what did you take away from the PSL?
Mohammad Asghar : I don’t know where to start! Let me first repeat what I said before. It’s the experience of playing alongside or against some of the top players of the world which is indescribable in words. I have obviously played alongside Pakistan’s top players in our domestic competitions but this was a whole new experience. The other important lesson that I took away from this tournament was how one handles pressure in tough games. I believe any youngster who can learn to absorb this can go far in the future. I was lucky to have taken this on-board against some of the toughest opposition I have ever played against.
PakPassion.net : Were you surprised at just how well the tournament went for you?
Mohammad Asghar : As a player, you always strive for your best and you should expect better performances from yourself. So I expected myself to do well and I suppose eleven wickets with the best economy rate for my team in one of the top Twenty20 tournaments in the world is a good achievement. A lot of people did not think that I would be able to compete against the very best and pick up wickets but I did that and am very happy about it. Having said that, even I didn’t expect to take wickets of top players like Shane Watson and Andre Russell but am obviously very pleased with the result. The challenge for me is to continue and improve upon what I achieved at the PSL as I have gained a lot of confidence from playing at that level.
PakPassion.net : You've become a household name all of a sudden, how does that feel?
Mohammad Asghar : I am very happy that my name is being mentioned in that way. I had already played and performed well at the domestic level so my name was known but my reputation has reached new heights since the PSL. All through the PSL tournament, I was being encouraged by my family and friends to perform better and I am sure I didn’t disappoint them either. It is true that if one performs in a big tournament like the PSL, people will recognize you for your talent and this is what has happened. To be honest, I am amazed by the popularity I have experienced and I can only thank the Almighty for His blessings and the fact that I am where I am today.
PakPassion.net : What advice did you get from Andy Flower?
Mohammad Asghar : I was constantly receiving advice from coaches and Andy Flower who was the assistant coach also gave me useful advice on improving my bowling and batting. He was really impressed by my bowling and told me that he hadn’t seen many bowlers spin the ball in to the batsmen as I could and he really praised me for that as did some of the television commentators at that time.
PakPassion.net : How was the overall atmosphere and the quality of wickets at the PSL?
Mohammad Asghar : The PSL was really a brilliant tournament for all concerned. For me personally, I really enjoyed bowling on Dubai wickets as they were conducive to spin bowling but if you ask me about enjoying myself in front of large crowds, then nothing beats playing in Sharjah. That was truly a different experience and a great atmosphere. I also remember the games in Sharjah for some great memories especially when I took the wicket of an excellent player like Shane Watson on my third delivery of the game and then later claimed the wicket of Andre Russell who is an expert player in this format of the game.
PakPassion.net : Amazing to think you were close to being selected for the Asia Cup and World Cup Twenty20?
Mohammad Asghar : What can I say apart from that it would have been great if I had had the chance to serve my country in these two prestigious tournaments which would be a fantastic opportunity for any player. But it didn’t happen so I am going to continue to do my best and work harder for the future.
PakPassion.net : What are your thoughts on the Pakistan Cup and how well your team have done in that tournament?
Mohammad Asghar : This was a great tournament for Pakistan players. After the PSL it was the biggest thing to happen to Pakistan cricket. It was the highest level tournament to be played in Pakistan with our top players playing in this. I do not believe that the standard of performances was any less than the PSL and we are all proud to have participated in it. I know that the senior players always make a difference but what really impressed me in this tournament was the performances of our younger players. I know that some of these players did not get a chance to play in the PSL but they were looking at this tournament as a way to impress the decision makers so that they can get picked for the next edition of the PSL.
As a Pakistani it makes me proud to be part of such a tournament where the younger and inexperienced players are doing so well. I am also very proud of my team, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who were winners of the Pakistan Cup. As you know, no team can reach the final and win such a high profile tournament unless they have the talent and hard work to show for it and this team has all those qualities.
PakPassion.net : Are you looking forward to selection for the Pakistan senior team or Pakistan A team for the tour to England and what now for your future?
Mohammad Asghar : It would be great to be selected for even the Pakistan A squad for the tour of England. Whether that happens or not, I know that I have to continue to work hard and not give up. As long as I maintain my fitness, with the Almighty’s help and hard-work, I will be able to reach whatever goals I have set myself. I have lots to learn but I'm happy with my progress.