KARACHI: Pakistan left-handed batsman Shan Masood has set his focus on performing in domestic cricket and believes he can impress the selectors to enter the squad which will host Sri Lanka in the UAE.
Shan, while talking exclusively to The Express Tribune during the final of the Red Bull Campus Cricket tournament at the Moin Khan Academy, Karachi where Jinnah Degree College Karachi beat UCP Lahore to qualify for the Campus Cricket finals in Sri Lanka, said that the he is no hurry to represent Pakistan in the ODIs and T20Is.
When asked when he is going to make his debut in the ODIs, Shan said: “My domestic season in ODI cricket went really well. Over the year, I scored about 1,200 runs. Also, I played the last T20 competition. So I have set my focus on performing in the domestic circuit [in all formats]. Everything else in the hands of the selectors, but if the opportunity comes knocking on the door, I’ll grab it. However, I am in no hurry.”
Shan played his last Test for Pakistan when the team won the three-Test series 2-1 against West Indies at the latter’s home in May — the farewell series for former captain Misbahul Haq and veteran Younus Khan — and scored 9 and 21 runs respectively in both innings.
When asked if he sees himself in the squad for Sri Lanka’s tour of the UAE, the 27-year-old said: “I’m always hopeful. However, the team has its own requirements and the selectors have their own. If I tick all the boxes, God willing I will be in the final squad.”
Shan has represented Pakistan in 10 Tests as of now, and has toured three different countries — Sri Lanka in 2015, England in 2016 and West Indies in 2017 — with the national team, and he believes playing on foreign pitches becomes easier if you can learn to handle pressure.
“For a batsman, international conditions are much easier,” said Shan. “It is harder to be a batsman in domestic cricket. If you perform in these [domestic] conditions, all you have to do is take the pressure of international cricket and apply yourself effectively.”
The southpaw was a part of the squad during Pakistan’s famous tour of England in the summer of 2016 where they drew the four-Test series 2-2, and his experience of a full-house crowd, he believes, was amazing.
“It is harder to play in an empty stadium,” said Shan. “When you are at a ground like Lord’s, the public announcer calls your name, first day, first Test of the summer, 30,000 fans are cheering, that gives you motivation to perform. You zone out once you step onto the pitch. Things change after you see such a crowd.”
Shan was termed as one of the fittest cricketer alongside Misbahul Haq and Younus Khan when the team was sent for training to Kakool for training with the Pakistan Army before the tour of England, and the Pallekele centurion believes Mickey Arthur’s arrival changed the trend.
“Since the arrival of Mickey Arthur, the trend of focusing on one’s fitness has set in,” he commented.
Worst and best crowd
During his short stint with the national team after his debut in 2013, Shan has already faced a confidence-denting crowd, which he faced in Manchester during England-Pakistan second Test in 2016.
“The worst crowd I faced was during our second Test against England at Manchester,” Shan revealed. “It was Saturday and the crowd there is ready to boo you on every mishap, every misfield. Also if England is bowling and you are batting, they don’t allow you to get settled and don’t let go off a chance to boo you.”
Moreover, as any Pakistani cricketer would say, Shan also loves Pakistan fans. “Pakistani fans, meanwhile, are the best,” he said. “Wherever you go, they always give you love and cheer for you.”
Campus Cricket: a good initiative
Red Bull Campus Cricket may not be the most talked about event in Pakistan at the moment, but Shan believes the initiative is great considering the condition of domestic cricket.
“This system will help Pakistan eventually,” he said. “We lag behind because a cricketer’s life is limited to the game only and a student can’t actively participate in sports and ends up in a 9-5 job or enters business. However, when I see this platform, there are students who can go to the university and play cricket too, which is great.”