KARACHI / LONDON: Opening batsman Sharjeel Khan broke several records on his ODI comeback as he made a blistering 152 off 86 balls against Ireland in the first of two one-dayers between the sides, smashing the third-fastest 150 of ODI cricket and the third-highest score by a Pakistani in an ODI. He also became his country’s fourth-fastest centurion.
Selector Tauseef Ahmed praised the opener, whose knock was made all the more impressive by the green nature of the pitch that saw some early movement afforded to the fast-bowlers.
“Sharjeel has grabbed his opportunity with both hands as he played one of the best knocks by a Pakistani batsman in challenging conditions,” Tauseef told The Express Tribune.
“Almost everyone else found it difficult to adjust. Pakistan need players such as Sharjeel who can counter-attack in trying conditions such as these. Hats off to Sharjeel as he took the attack to Ireland.”
However, the 58-year-old felt the left-hander could have gone on to become the first Pakistani to score 200 runs, considering he was dismissed in the 32nd over of the match.
“You don’t get such opportunities often so Sharjeel should have tried to bat through the innings and become the first Pakistani to score a double ton,” said Tauseef. “He was well set and could even have tried to break Rohit Sharma’s record of 264.”
The selector also asked the team management to give new players such as Mohammad Nawaz, who scored a debut half-century, and Hasan Ali a chance. “Pakistan play seven ODIs and they should try and experiment with new players.”
Pakistan’s one-day form a worry for Arthur
The Men in Green’s ODI form is a ‘real concern’ to coach Mickey Arthur and the South African believes it could ‘take some time’ to improve the team’s standing in white-ball cricket.
The 1992 world champions, Pakistan are languishing in ninth place, with only hosts England and the top seven teams come September next year guaranteed a place at the 2019 World Cup.
“We have not done well in ODIs. I think this is a real concern for me,” Arthur told AFP. “Pakistan’s position at number nine in one-day cricket is not good. Pakistan are not the number nine team but I do fear that our one-day cricket will regress because of playing the style or brand that belongs to the 1990s when the game has moved on such big amount.”
Arthur also questioned the side’s fielding and fitness standards. “I also think that your fitness and fielding play a massive role. So we need to get our players up to speed on that,” he said. “England are a very good one-day team now, so for us it’s about our progression. This is where our one-day journey starts.”