Sharif Asadullah, a former first-class Pakistan cricketer, will appear in the World Twenty20 clad in the grey and black kit of the UAE.
The 29-year-old pacer moved away from Pakistan in 2006 after making his first-class debut for Karachi, citing uncertainty over a secure future in the country as the reason.
Eight years on, he has been rewarded with a place in the UAE national team that will take on Zimbabwe, Ireland and Netherlands in the World Twenty20 Group B qualifiers.
It feels like a dream: Sharif
According to Sharif, he had ceased thinking about playing in a World Cup after leaving Pakistan.
However, he found the much-needed support in UAE from his company Mulk Holding and their team Alubond Tiger, that helped him achieve this dream.
“It feels like a dream that I will be playing in a World Cup; it had never crossed my mind after I came here,” Sharif told The Express Tribune.
“As a youngster, I aspired donning the colours of Pakistan but that died when I moved to the UAE. Now here I am, representing them in a World Cup. It is the greatest achievement of my life.
“I want to give something back to them by helping the team qualify for the main round.”
He was among the genuine pacers along with first-class players Tabish Khan and Saeed Khan in the under-19 circuit. He represented Pakistan Cricket Board’s 2003 Regional Cricket Academy in Karachi, which included international players Asad Shafiq, Khalid Latif, Khurram Manzoor and Fawad Alam.
“Recently, I played against Pakistan and got a wicket of my batch-mate Manzoor and it felt great because he has now become a Test player,” he said.
Later, he went on to play for Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) under the captaincy of Sarfaraz Ahmed in 2006, while other international players who were part of the Grade-II squad included Rameez Raja Jr and Anwar Ali.
Sharif, who idolises Waqar Younis, attended the National Cricket Academy Camp in 2005 with Salman Butt, Umar Gul, Riaz Afridi, Najaf Shah, Fawad Alam and Nasir Jamshed.
“There was an insecurity among players of not being paid well enough in domestic cricket which left me with no choice but to look for greener pastures,” stated Sharif.
‘Aaqib has been a great inspiration’
Sharif credited coach and Pakistan’s 1992 World Cup winner Aaqib Javed as the man who influenced a turnaround in the fortunes of UAE.
“Ever since Aaqib has taken over, he has been a great inspiration to all of us. He has instilled self-belief and the courage to take on top teams, which is why we’re here in the World Cup.
“We’ve got a decent squad which can surprise a few teams. Our skipper Khurram Khan and Shaiman Anwar are key players for us.”
Published in The Express Tribune, March 14th, 2014.
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