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National T20 Cup: Ahmed Bashir adds potency to Central Punjab’s bowling attack

After waiting for a long time for his turn to impress, fast bowler Ahmed Bashir did not let the opportunity go as his four-wicket haul spearheaded Central Punjab’s thumping nine-wicket win over Balochistan in the National T20 Cup for First XIs at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Monday night.

 

This was the 24-year-old’s second appearance for Central Punjab in the tournament, the first being against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in which he returned three for 32. He had to make way for Faheem Ashraf after the tournament moved to Rawalpindi.

He found another opportunity after the Central Punjab’s management dropped fast bowler Ehsan Adil. This time around, Ahmed bettered his previous performance as he returned four for 23.

He now seems certain to earn more appearances for his side as they strive to earn a semi-final berth. Central Punjab take on Southern Punjab (today) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (tomorrow) in their last two group matches.

Ahmed started his career after seeking inspiration from the stories he had heard about and from his grandfather, Bashir Haider, a former first-class cricketer who played 39 matches from 1960-1971.

Ahmed made an impression as a teenager when he appeared for Lahore U16 in the PCB-Pepsi Cricket Stars in October 2010. Ahmed took nine wickets in five matches in an event, which also featured future stars like Khushdil Shah, Zafar Gohar and Danish Aziz.

Ahmed Bashir: “My aim is to represent Pakistan and to be amongst the best bowlers in international cricket. I used to visit cricket grounds with my grandfather who told me stories about his playing days. I was born in Vehari but moved to Lahore to pursue my cricketing ambitions. My performances for Lahore at the U16 and U19 levels, earned me a place in Pakistan U19 team in 2014.

“Shoaib Akhtar and Dale Steyn are my bowling idols. I admired their aggressive approach, wicket-taking ability and was inspired by their performances.

“I wasn’t disappointed after missing out on the first five Central Punjab matches in the tournament; I worked hard at the gym and kept myself prepared since I wanted to grab the opportunity whenever it came my way.

“The pitch for the match last night suited my bowling style and I aimed at maintaining a tight line and length without giving batsmen the opportunity to score. I am very happy that my approach, backed by captain Babar Azam and the team management, paid off.

“I really enjoyed the wicket of Haris Sohail as he is a quality player. I was looking for a five-for after dismissing him but could not get there. Now I hope to get five wickets in a match soon.”

The 24-year-old has so far taken 112 wickets in 26 first-class matches at an impressive bowling average of 20.14 with five five-wicket hauls. In List A cricket, he has collected 41 wickets in 28 matches while his T20 career of 13 matches has earned him 22 wickets at 14.68 with an impressive economy rate of 6.97.

With his knack of taking wickets while restricting the batsmen from scoring freely, strong work ethics and determination, Ahmed is likely to go a long way in his career.