Shehzad answers critics

March 31, 2014

Opener Ahmed Shehzad became the first Pakistani batsman to hit a Twenty20 International century on Sunday, breaking his own previous national record of 98 not out with an unbeaten 62-ball 111 against hosts Bangladesh at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.
In the process, Shehzad became the first Pakistani to own hundreds in T20Is, ODIs and Tests and fired his side to a comprehensive 50-run victory over the Tigers, setting up a de facto quarter-final date with the West Indies on Tuesday for Group 2’s second semi-final spot, with India already through.
In a tournament that has seen its share of brutal big hitting, Shehzad’s hundred – the second of the competition, after Alex Hales’ 116 not out against Sri Lanka on Thursday – seemed almost muted, despite 10 fours and two sixes and a strike-rate of 179. He raced to 29 off 13 balls in the first three overs with a series of flicks and drives, but only once cleared out for a big slog in that time. His elegant stroke-play continued throughout his innings as Pakistan piled on 190 runs to put the contest out of reach early.
The innings breaks Shehzad out of a mini-slump, following scores of 22 and 5 in the first two games against India and Australia respectively and 12 against South Africa in their warm-up match, and the 22-year-old was quick to answer his critics after the match.
‘To be very honest with you, I’ve been listening to so many things from the last two games, and this is what happens in cricket,’ Shehzad said in his post-match press briefing.
‘When you don’t play well in a couple of games, pressure [is] on you, but this is when you have to show your character, this is when you have to come out.’
I just backed myself, and captain, coaches, I’d like to thank them, whoever supported me, I’d like to thank them.
I was just backing myself and sticking to my game plan. [I] wasn’t trying to do anything extra. My aim was to pick up the bowlers first and just go after them.’
The innings on Sunday was Shehzad’s second century against Bangladesh at Mirpur in less than a month, after an ODI ton against the Tigers on March 4 during a highly successful Asia Cup campaign for the young right-hander.
He has also enjoyed teeing-off on Bangladeshi bowlers in the T20 format, dating back to his superlative performance for the Barisal Burners in the 2012 Bangladesh Premier League. He finished as the competition’s top-scorer with 486 runs in 12 matches and clubbed a 49-ball 113 not out against Duronto Rajshahi at Mirpur, the site of yesterday’s historic knock.
‘I feel very proud because before coming here that was my aim, that in a pool games itself I need to make a century to become the first Pakistani player to have a century in all three formats,’ he said.

-With New Age input

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