Who should Fawad Alam have replaced in the Test squad for the series vs Ireland and England?
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Profile of an outstanding leg-spinning all-rounder who has represented Pakistan on A tours of England and Zimbabwe.

By Amir Husain (30th October, 2016)

Full name Shadab Khan

Born October 4, 1998, Mianwali

Major teams Pakistan Under-19s, Pakistan A, Islamabad

Batting style Right-hand bat

Bowling style Legbreak

Developing Interest in cricket 

I was born in Mianwali in northwest Punjab where I started playing cricket with tape-ball in the streets around my home. Like most Pakistanis, my parents were not too happy with me playing cricket as they really wanted me to concentrate on education. My elder brother on the other hand encouraged me to play and taught me how to bat and bowl. I played cricket in school and during those years also played regional Under-16 for the Rawalpindi region where I was adjudged best all-rounder. I did not continue my education past F.Sc. level as I had to devote time to cricket. However, I will finish F.Sc. once I have more time.

The Misbah-ul-Haq Mianwali connection

I am proud that I am from the same city as one of Pakistan’s greatest Test captains and an excellent batsman. To be honest, I never met him in Mianwali and I do doubt if he knows that I was born in the same town he is from. He was my captain in the President's Cup when I made my debut in List A so I did finally get to meet him there and it was a great experience.

The choice to bowl spin and inspiration from other cricketers

I always bowled leg-spin from the days of tape-ball cricket. In my younger years, I liked the way Shane Warne bowled. I used to watch him bowl a lot on television and wanted to bowl just like him although I also respect Amit Mishra the Indian spinner a lot, but if you ask me which cricketer I would want to emulate that would be the Australian Steve Smith. Of course, when it comes to learning the art of spin bowling, there is no one better than Mushtaq Ahmed to guide me and I have been lucky to have been trained by him in recent times at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore.

Mohammad Nawaz’s encouragement 

I feel lucky that the Rawalpindi club I play for, Siddiq Akbar, has Pakistan spinner Mohammad Nawaz who whenever not playing international cricket will always come by and encourage me and play in club matches with us. I find working with him very useful and he has played a significant part in my development as a spinner.

Progression from regional Under-16 through to Under-19

I started with the regional Under-16s from 2011 to early 2013 but had a gap of a year after which in 2015 I was selected for the Under-17 series against England in the UAE. In that series, I was the top wicket-taker for Pakistan with ten wickets in four One-Day games. I also represented Rawalpindi in an inter-region Under-19 tournament where I was the highest wicket-taker with thirty wickets (average of 7.73) and two hundred and ninety-five runs (average of 73.75). I then took part in a one-day series for Pakistan Under-19 against Sri Lanka Under-19 and then played a tri-series versus the Australia and New Zealand Under-19 sides. Next, I represented Pakistan in the Under-19 World Cup in early 2016 which was played in Bangladesh where I took eleven wickets and shared the honour of being the highest wicket-taker for Pakistan with Hasan Mohsin.

Playing alongside Pakistan’s top stars in the Pakistan Cup One-Day competition

I made my debut in List-A for Islamabad against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in April of 2016 during the Pakistan Cup. Of course, playing in a national tournament for my debut was fantastic but what made it special was that I was part of a star-studded Islamabad side which was being captained by one of Pakistan’s top players, Misbah-ul-Haq. To be honest, playing alongside Misbah-ul-Haq, Kamran Akmal, Sharjeel Khan and Mohammad Sami to name a few was a nervy experience as was the fact that I was playing against a team with big names like Younis Khan, Ahmed Shehzad and Yasir Shah. Thankfully with the help of Misbah-ul-Haq who inspired confidence in me, I was able to settle in and produce a match winning batting performance as I stayed not out on thirty-three in our run chase. One thing I would say about Misbah is that he never makes you feel that you are new or he is a senior player. He treats all players with respect and the trust is such that a player can share all issues whether they are cricket related or not with Misbah.

Unique First-Class debut against Sri Lanka in England

This was an amazing experience for me as I was selected for Pakistan A’s tour of England where I played in the second Unofficial Test against Sri Lanka A. It was a dream debut for me as I scored forty-eight runs and took five wickets in the game. I had already played List-A games in Pakistan and had an idea of the big stage but playing my debut First-Class game under English conditions was an amazing feeling and of course my good performances helped me there. 

The challenge of playing for Pakistan A against Zimbabwe A on tour

This was the toughest challenge for me in my career so far. The pitches were on the flatter side in Zimbabwe and getting wickets was a difficult job. What also made life tougher was the fact that the Zimbabwe A team was composed mainly of their senior team; their batting line-up had mostly their Test players. What I learnt from this tour was the importance of discipline when bowling and how by denying scoring opportunities, one can induce mistakes from the batsmen. Nevertheless, I am glad that I ended the tour on a high-note where I took thirteen wickets which was the highest for Pakistan A on this tour and scored one hundred and thirty-seven runs during the two unofficial Test matches.

Wicket taking delivery

I depend a lot on my googly which is also referred to as a mystery ball nowadays. To further perfect this ball, I have been working with Mushtaq Ahmed at the NCA who has worked a lot on refining my action and making it more repeatable.

Future aspirations

I am eighteen years old now so very young but I will endeavour to find a place in the national side. What I want to become in the future is Pakistan’s best all-rounder as I believe that there is a real need for such a player in the team. The aim is not to put any deadline for making the national team but to continue working hard; success will follow with the Almighty’s help.