Just 24 years of age, Aqeel Anjum has some excellent performances to his name and continues to impress all observers of the domestic game. In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, he takes us through his career development, his views on the Pentangular Cup as well as improvements that he can make to his game.
Full name: Aqeel Anjum
Born: March 7, 1987, Mirpurkhas, Sind
Current age: 24
Major teams: Hyderabad Hawks, Hyderabad Region, National Bank of Pakistan
Batting style: Left-hand bat
Favourite Shot: Cover drive
Favourite Cricketer: Imran Khan
Fielding position: Occasional wicketkeeper
How I Got Into Cricket: Basically, I watched my cousins and brothers play cricket when I was small. From there I developed interest and I started going to the ground where I essentially played tape ball cricket. After that, I played school cricket during my Matriculation years. I also played in tournaments, after that I joined an academy in Hyderabad.
Who Spotted Me: I have an 'ustad' [mentor] or you can say a God Father - Karim Ashan Sahib - who was from the club and academy. He used to tell me that I have talent and that I should work hard.
Realization of My Talent: At district level, I was playing my last year. There I made 700 runs in the season. At that time, Afaq Raheem was the highest scorer, he made 50 more runs than me. Our batting team was pretty good back then, as I continued to perform, my interest in the game increased and I felt I just had to keep performing. So, as I kept playing, I kept performing. All this occurred back in 2001-2002.
When I Came to Department Cricket: In departmental cricket, this was my first season with National Bank. I had been playing grade 2 cricket before the departmental level. There is a big difference between regional cricket and department cricket. The difference is similar to the difference between international cricket and domestic cricket. There is a huge gap between the two.
Difficulty to Make Team: I have worked hard and made adjustments. I just needed to perform and I did perform well. Yes, I did feel that it's such a big team and that I needed to do well to cement my spot, which I feel I have done now. I hadn't played too much cricket before this, so indeed I felt it was a difficult task. I also had a chat with Iqbal Qasim and he also suggested it was going to be hard. No matter where you go, you obviously have to earn a spot. So, I had to work hard to make the team.
Benefits from High Quality Teammates: Yes, I have learned a lot. They are always very professional. They always focus on their work. You get to learn a lot from them about your batting. They tell you how to bat and how to put together a long innings. I have got to learn a lot from the likes of Kamran Akmal, Fawad Alam and Khurram Manzoor. They have helped me a lot.
Fitness: There is indeed a big difference between grade 2 cricket fitness and department cricket fitness. I am constantly working hard to make sure I reach that required level of fitness - the type that is required by the Pakistan team. Yes, the training is very hard. You have to stay fit for 11 matches during the season and then there is the Pentangular Cup as well - fitness becomes very important.
Last Year: I played 8 matches last year. In total, I made around 650 runs.
Pentangular Cup: I have had a nice start to the tournament, so far. In one of the recent matches, I was only able to make 30, but yes I played a long innings (126 v Khyber-Pak) as well. We have pretty much made the finals, but require 3 points from the semis. Federal Areas have good bowlers, they have bowlers like Rao Ifthikar. Still, the team has a lot of confidence and if I stay at the wicket, I will be able to make runs.
Memorable Performance: It was a match against Karachi B. They had one of Pakistan's fastest bowlers in Mohammad Sami on their team. They also had Sohail Khan who was part of Pakistan team recently. I was able to make a big score (203*) against that team, so that is my most memorable performance.
Hardest Bowler Faced: Early on, almost all bowlers are difficult. When you get upset, almost all bowlers can come in front and it becomes hard. However, my favourite bowler from domestic cricket has to be Mohammad Sami. In the matches, I have played him, he has always looked first class and he's still very fast.
Pakistan U-25 Tour: It was my first experience representing Pakistan. The tour went really well. Our performance was quite good in that tour, we even won the final. We brought back the Gold Medal. Sabih Azhar was our coach.
Reason for Low Scores: Usually when I play well, I tend to get big scores. Most of the times, I get out on scores that are near 50. If you look at my scores, I have 700 runs and in which there are two double hundreds, 178, 140, 146. I have more of those scores. Yes, sometimes when I get out, I tend to get out a bit early.
Improvements To be Made: I feel that at the moment, I am in great form. Due to this, I tend to stick out my pad more. Before, I used to make runs after playing lot of balls. What's happening now is that I am trying to score quickly and getting out, this is what i have noticed after analyzing my game in last 3 innings. I will try to do well in remaining matches of Pentagular Cup.