Prospect of playing in Australia excites sensational Saim Ayub

RAWALPINDI: The prospect of playing against Australia at the current World Test champions’ home is an exciting one for promising Pakistan opener Saim Ayub.

The 21-year-old has been no less than sensational since the last 12 months or so, piling up runs across both the red and white-ball formats with his utter flamboyance in the domestic circuit.

The performances earned Saim a place in the Pakistan T20 side last year and he is in line for his Test debut after being named in the team’s squad for the upcoming three-match series Down Under.

The left-hander proved his red-ball credentials scoring 500 plus runs in just eight appearances in the recently-concluded season of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy – Pakistan’s premier first-class tournament — scoring more than 300 runs in the final alone to help Karachi Whites win the title.

The secret behind Saim’s consistency, perhaps, is his positive outlook towards accepting challenges, and those will be ripe in Australia, where Pakistan haven’t won a single Test match since 1995.

“I think it will be fun playing cricket there [in Australia],” he told reporters on the sidelines of Pakistan’s ongoing preparatory camp for the series. “You’ve to push yourself out of your comfort zone and when there are challenges, there is growth as well and that excites me as a player.

“Players decide for themselves if they want to look at conditions as easy or difficult. What’s more important is the clarity of thought and being fearless with your approach.”

Saim said fearlessness will be key for Pakistan during the tour, but was of the opinion that the madness should be backed with a method.

“The approach should stay fearless but sometimes you have to play according to the conditions, you’ve to give respect to the bowlers when they are dominating,” he noted. “The momentum keeps shifting during the match, sometimes it’s with the bowlers and other times it’s with the batters and you have to adjust accordingly.

“Having a fearless approach doesn’t mean that you always have to hit the ball hard. Some sessions have to be played with a run-rate of three, some with that of five.”

Following a four-day practice match against the Australian Prime Minister’s XI from Dec 6-9, Pakistan are scheduled to take on Pat Cummins and co in Perth from Dec 14 before the teams clash in Melbourne and Sydney.

While Saim is raring to go, getting a Test cap won’t come easy for the Karachi-born player, with Abdullah Shafique and Imam-ul-Haq well-established as Pakistan’s mainstay Test openers.

“As far as expectations are concerned, I am looking forward to the opportunity of playing for Pakistan and win matches for the team,” he said, adding that Pakistan were preparing “while keeping in our subconscious the challenges that we can potentially face in Australia”.

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