My dream is to serve Pakistan cricket for many years: Usman Salahuddin

My dream is to serve Pakistan cricket for many years: Usman Salahuddin

Usman Salah-ud-Din
Usman Salah-ud-Din of Pakistan. (Photo by Peter Lim/Getty Images)

The Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Pakistan’s premier First-class tournament, presents an ideal opportunity to the plethora of potential talent to make a case for themselves. The ones who with lost opportunities also fancy chances by giving improved performances here. Once out of the team, the domestic set up is the only hope for the ignored names to present themselves again for the selection process.

One of them vying for a comeback based on the performance is Usman Salahuddin. In fact, he represents as the ideal batsman on whom the Pakistan selectors would be keeping a keen eye on as they look to the future.

Side-lined after making his international debut against the West Indies in 2011, Usman has spent all these years to prove his worth to national selectors by giving some stellar performances in the current edition of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.

In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, Usman spoke about his batting success at the First-class level, his experience of playing with the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) side and his aspirations for a future berth in the Pakistan team.

Having amassed eight hundred and forty-three runs in ten games, his success in the current season has been remarkable. If that is not enough to impress than also consider the fact that Usman has faced over two thousand deliveries which is the highest number faced by any batsmen in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy.

He is currently the fourth-highest number of runs in the tournament behind Kamran Akmal, Asif Zakir and Imam-ul-Haq.

“I thank the Almighty that he helped me perform so well in the recent Quaid-e-Azam Trophy tournament. I’d set myself some targets before the competition started and I was determined to hit those targets.”

Whilst Usman’s achievements may appear easily attained given his talent, the fact remains that changing teams and then being thrust into the limelight due to absence of senior players must have put immense strain on the twenty-six-year-old’s shoulders.

“I joined National Bank of Pakistan this season for a fresh start and I knew there would be pressure on me, as a lot of experienced and senior players like Kamran Akmal had left NBP. I knew that the emphasis would be on me to perform and make a lot of runs to ensure that we were competitive. I saw it as a challenge to lift the team and to support and guide the young and experienced players we have in the NBP squad.”

“My focus was to go out there and bat long innings and be the mainstay of the NBP team. What really helped me and was advantageous was that I played club cricket in England this year and as the club professional the pressure is on you to score the bulk of the runs and that was the same situation in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. Fortunately, I was able to handle the pressure and have a successful season and help NBP into the Super 8 stage of this prestigious tournament.”
Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali recently spoke about the importance of “spending time in the middle” as a key quality for a good batsman. If that is what sets apart good batsmen, then Usman’s stay at the wicket during the ten games he played in the tournament was not only crucial to the success of his team but also demonstrates the strengths of the batsman which is a great sign for his future prospects.

“My aim when batting has always been the same and that is to make sure that I don’t give my wicket away cheaply. If a bowler gets me out with a good delivery then that’s fine as that can happen, but what I never want to do is to play a loose shot and throw my wicket away. I try and bat to my strengths and play shots that I feel comfortable playing. I like to take my time and settle into an innings before playing my shots. I faced the most balls in this season’s Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and I think that proves that I have the patience and skills to play long innings.”

Usman’s team NBP did not make it to the final of the Quaid-e-Azam trophy but he knows that his success in the First-class version of the domestic season can only lead to more success and he is already looking forward to the National One-Day Cup to prove his worth, remarking, “I’m hoping that I can continue my good form this season in the National One-Day Cup which starts on 17th December. It’s a different format but I’m confident and in form so I’ve set myself some targets for this tournament also and I hope that I can hit those targets also.”

For a long period, Pakistan have relied upon the stability promised and provided by the two stalwarts in the shape of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan. With the end of their careers a real possibility in the near term, the selectors will be looking hard for possible replacements and if Usman’s recent performances are any yardstick, they may not have to look too long or far.

Usman is hopeful that the selectors will give him a chance when the two outstanding players decide to move on “Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan are legends and irreplaceable and have played some fantastic and match-winning innings over the years, but I hope that when they do retire from international cricket then the selectors do give me a chance to show my skills. I will not let anyone down when I get the chance to play Test cricket for Pakistan and my dream is to serve Pakistan cricket for many years,” he concluded.