Aslam lives up to his 18th birthday pledge

Pakistan’s young opener on his love for the UAE and his half centuries

16:37 October 14, 2016

Dubai: Pakistan’s young opener Sami Aslam, who missed his maiden century by ten runs on the first day of the first Test at the Dubai International stadium, has fulfilled a promise he made on his 18th birthday.

Speaking to Gulf News after celebrating his 18th birthday in 2013 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, where he had come to play in a triangular under-19 tournament, Aslam had said: “I have been scoring at all opportunities coming my way and it’s my dream to play for Pakistan one day.”

Soon after this interview he went on to crack 129 against UAE, and a run-a-ball 108 against Nepal.

He revealed that just before the UAE tour he had played a knock of 191 for National Bank of Pakistan against State Bank of Pakistan in the President’s Trophy in Pakistan along with Kamran Akmal, who hit 162 runs. He then went on to play two U-19 World Cups including the 2014 edition, in which he led his side into the final. In UAE, he again scored a hundred in his team’s victory over arch rivals India at the 2013-14 U-19 Asia Cup in UAE. Today he holds the record for the second-highest run-scorer in Under-19 One Day International history with 1,695 runs.

It would have been ideal for him to also get his maiden Test century in the UAE as it is from this country that he announced his arrival as a promising junior cricketer with brilliant knocks.

“I am unlucky to have missed a 100 by ten runs. I was unlucky in England as well when I got out for 82. I got run out in that match [in the Birmingham Test]. This is only my fifth Test match and I am hopeful I will be able to score a century in the future,” he said.

Aslam is only 20 years old and came in for praise from chief selector Inzamam Ul Haq, too. Aslam had made his first class debut at the age of 17 for National Bank of Pakistan in the President’s Trophy and cracked a fine 41 runs after opening the innings against Habib Bank Limited. He once revealed to Gulf News how much the senior players had helped him gain confidence. “I have been playing with the senior players like Kamran Akmal and Fawad Alam. Almost all the senior players have been helping me with lots of advice and that has helped me a lot to do well in top tournaments.”

Aslam was the first to face the pink ball delivered by Shannon Gabriel on Thursday. Talking about the experience, Aslam said: “All the players thought the ball would swing more, and they were very excited because it was the first Day-Night Test. But the ball did not react that differently at all, like we had thought it would. There was normal swing and the ball did not give the fast bowlers that much assistance, as we had expected, after the first 15 overs.”

With three half centuries from just five Test matches at the age of 20, Aslam is surely set for more glory.