Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Asia Cup final, Mirpur March 8, 2014

After lengthy wait, Fawad grabs his chances

Misbah-ul-Haq has had to routinely rescue Pakistan after top-order collapses, but in the Asia Cup Fawad Alam showed the temperament to be a worthy ally
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Fawad Alam has happened to this particular Pakistan team by accident, not by design. If Sharjeel Khan hadn't collided with Mohammad Hafeez against India and hadn't injured his knee in the process, Fawad would probably have still been carrying drinks. But a calculated 74 against Bangladesh, in his first ODI in more than three years, was followed by a resilient century in the final against Sri Lanka. The two innings were hardly about luck, made more of pluck.

Both against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, he kept the score ticking over with little flashiness and once set, he showed off a vast repertoire of strokes. Fawad has almost every shot that is necessary to score big in ODIs. He also uses the depth of the crease remarkably well in the latter part of his innings, ensuring deliveries that are meant to be yorkers are turned into low full-tosses. Perhaps this is an old trick but Fawad has managed to make use of it very well.

There is definitely an air of unremarkable-ness about Fawad, as Osman Samiuddin wrote on ESPNcricinfo earlier this week, but when Fawad flicked a six off Thisara Perera and celebrated in the 48th over, he broke new ground. He is now the first Pakistani left-handed middle-order batsman to score an ODI hundred. One wonders whether he knew of the existence of such a stat.

A first look at Fawad indicates he is in great touch. His confidence is evident in the way he has adopted a Shivnarine Chanderpaul-like stance and how he gets off the mark. In both games, he waited for the right ball and found boundaries to get going. Against Sri Lanka, he took a bit of time before he drilled one through the covers and against Bangladesh, he was gifted a short one by Shafiul Islam.

He reached 50 off 57 balls in that game, and was played his part in the final push - punishing Abdur Razzak's fuller length with two crucial sixes in the 48th over, which was still required after Shahid Afridi's 25-ball mayhem. But against Sri Lanka, his approach to the innings had to be vastly different till he completed his fifty.

He made sure wickets wouldn't be given away easily as he took his time, scoring 18 off his first 50 balls. He was not taking chances until a sweep off Sachithra Senanayake landed just short of the long-leg fielder. In the next over, the 33rd of the innings, Kumar Sangakkara dropped a difficult chance off Suranga Lakmal. Fawad persevered and got to his fifty off 91 balls. By then, Pakistan had forgotten about 18 for 3.

Soon enough, despite losing Misbah-ul-Haq, Fawad started biffing them straight or swiping at anything remotely loose. He was dropped on 92 by Chaturanga de Silva in the covers, and completed his century soon after, off 126 balls. His second fifty coming off just 35 balls, and with that Pakistan heaved a sigh of relief at finding a batsman capable of handling the difficult situations Misbah has been dealing with in the last several years.

He has played the background man very well, first to Ahmed Shehzad in the Bangladesh game and later to Misbah in the final. He works on the basis of a solid technique, very tight outside offstump at the start of the innings unlike many left-handers. He banks on the bowler's intention to come to him, and when they do, he capitalises.

Fawad will head back home in the safety of the knowledge that he has done enough to continue warranting a place in the Pakistan middle-order. The likes of Sohaib Maqsood and Shoaib Malik are in the World T20 side and while this could sway opinion about middle-order candidates, it would be hard to forget what Fawad did when Pakistan were 105-3 against Bangladesh and 18-3 against Sri Lanka.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • fgf72 on March 11, 2014, 22:57 GMT

    hopefully Pakistan don't waste fawad alams talent like they do with other players

  • mainul079080 on March 11, 2014, 3:27 GMT

    Even being a Bangladeshi no Pakistani i think is a better fan than me of Fawad. In last 3 and half years i posted many comments in cricinfo simply on Fawad to see him in the Pakistani team.Some were published some were not.I am so passionate about this great Pakistani left hander...He is a great greaat wasted talent.I can swear if he were given a proper run in the team he would have will simply pass Younus, Misbah by a mile.I like Misbah but i hate him only in one aspect.He was instrumental behind Fawad's exclusion along with the selectors. Lastly i want to request Misbah and selectors to continue Fawad in Pakistan team for the next decade for the benefit of Pakistani cricket and to recover their sin and he will be a legend by then

  • Dadu786 on March 10, 2014, 20:04 GMT

    He played like Shivnarine Chandarpaul,he keeps bowler in presure in death overs shufling on the crease.

  • on March 10, 2014, 4:34 GMT

    @Sidh79: 'SL not win a single series OUt side SL since 2000' You don't watch much cricket, do you?

  • Ray24 on March 10, 2014, 3:39 GMT

    Well played. Now he shoudl get Punjab residency to secure his place in the team.

  • Love-Pak on March 10, 2014, 2:36 GMT

    Why Fawad was dropped 2 test matches after making century in his first test?? made in Sri Lnaka against Sri lanka 3 and half years back !! Why players like Kamran Akmal, Shoiab Malik, Hafeez, Imran Farhat, Umer Ameen and most recently Sohaib Maqsood getting selection again and again even after so many times they have failed?? And Why Players like Fawad was dropped 3 years back and never given any chance ever again? Why Khurram Manzoor was dropped 4 years back after he made 79 not out against Australia in Australia when on the other side entire Pakistani team got out on 176 in that innings? and why he was not given any chance until 3 months back? Why Bhatti got so many chances even after he continue to fail and Why Anwar have not been given even half of chances then Bhatti when he already have shown that he is a better all rounder then Bhatti?? Why Always Asad Shafiq gets dropped after 1 or 2 innings failure when he has already proven that he is very talented batsman?? Any answer????

  • on March 9, 2014, 16:15 GMT

    It must be the mustache.

    Just give this lad time and he'll show success

  • sidh78 on March 9, 2014, 13:58 GMT

    Noticed one thing how the nature of the tracks(pitchs) change the quality of team.SL wins on super flat roads of bangaladesh.but same SL team thrashed by india in CT & tri series in ENG & WI on fast seaming bouncy tracks & SL not win a single series OUt side SL since 2000.really cricket is funny game.

  • on March 9, 2014, 12:11 GMT

    In second paragraph its not Both against Bangladesh and Pakistan its Both against Bangladesh and Srilanka

  • on March 9, 2014, 11:39 GMT

    Fawad Alam is comfortably suitable for both ODI & Test format. He will be a handy tool for the WC 2015. He shud never play T20I in life.

  • fgf72 on March 11, 2014, 22:57 GMT

    hopefully Pakistan don't waste fawad alams talent like they do with other players

  • mainul079080 on March 11, 2014, 3:27 GMT

    Even being a Bangladeshi no Pakistani i think is a better fan than me of Fawad. In last 3 and half years i posted many comments in cricinfo simply on Fawad to see him in the Pakistani team.Some were published some were not.I am so passionate about this great Pakistani left hander...He is a great greaat wasted talent.I can swear if he were given a proper run in the team he would have will simply pass Younus, Misbah by a mile.I like Misbah but i hate him only in one aspect.He was instrumental behind Fawad's exclusion along with the selectors. Lastly i want to request Misbah and selectors to continue Fawad in Pakistan team for the next decade for the benefit of Pakistani cricket and to recover their sin and he will be a legend by then

  • Dadu786 on March 10, 2014, 20:04 GMT

    He played like Shivnarine Chandarpaul,he keeps bowler in presure in death overs shufling on the crease.

  • on March 10, 2014, 4:34 GMT

    @Sidh79: 'SL not win a single series OUt side SL since 2000' You don't watch much cricket, do you?

  • Ray24 on March 10, 2014, 3:39 GMT

    Well played. Now he shoudl get Punjab residency to secure his place in the team.

  • Love-Pak on March 10, 2014, 2:36 GMT

    Why Fawad was dropped 2 test matches after making century in his first test?? made in Sri Lnaka against Sri lanka 3 and half years back !! Why players like Kamran Akmal, Shoiab Malik, Hafeez, Imran Farhat, Umer Ameen and most recently Sohaib Maqsood getting selection again and again even after so many times they have failed?? And Why Players like Fawad was dropped 3 years back and never given any chance ever again? Why Khurram Manzoor was dropped 4 years back after he made 79 not out against Australia in Australia when on the other side entire Pakistani team got out on 176 in that innings? and why he was not given any chance until 3 months back? Why Bhatti got so many chances even after he continue to fail and Why Anwar have not been given even half of chances then Bhatti when he already have shown that he is a better all rounder then Bhatti?? Why Always Asad Shafiq gets dropped after 1 or 2 innings failure when he has already proven that he is very talented batsman?? Any answer????

  • on March 9, 2014, 16:15 GMT

    It must be the mustache.

    Just give this lad time and he'll show success

  • sidh78 on March 9, 2014, 13:58 GMT

    Noticed one thing how the nature of the tracks(pitchs) change the quality of team.SL wins on super flat roads of bangaladesh.but same SL team thrashed by india in CT & tri series in ENG & WI on fast seaming bouncy tracks & SL not win a single series OUt side SL since 2000.really cricket is funny game.

  • on March 9, 2014, 12:11 GMT

    In second paragraph its not Both against Bangladesh and Pakistan its Both against Bangladesh and Srilanka

  • on March 9, 2014, 11:39 GMT

    Fawad Alam is comfortably suitable for both ODI & Test format. He will be a handy tool for the WC 2015. He shud never play T20I in life.

  • alipk52 on March 9, 2014, 11:24 GMT

    This guy is born with some talents, I can easily call him the best Athelete in Pakistan team, I do saw his debut innings against Sri Lanka, where he scored 160+ in test, along with that, he had shown many a times his class and potential since 2009, Still he didn't make it to the team, now he is turned 28, this guy can bat anywhere, he can open as well, infact his 160 came in that position, I hardly find a reason why talented players like him keep on ignoring by management, I always ended up in one reason that's if you're from Punjab, then you have a great chance to be selected, but if you're from Sindh, KP, Balochistan, you have to fight out hard to make it, Fawad is from Karachi, so whatever talent he possess, the consideration for selection is not less than nothing, I don't have any complaints about bowling, it'll never gonna lose its respect, they're going through a bad patch in conditions that don't support pacers, but they'll bounce back, at least our batting lineup is doing well

  • on March 9, 2014, 11:05 GMT

    @gannyboy pak would have ended up 100 runs short if MISBAH and FAWAd wasnt there

  • umairhuda on March 9, 2014, 8:00 GMT

    Well Played Fawad, He reminds me early days of my cricket where I learnt a lot from his father TARIQ ALAM, He taught me how to build the inning and once set how to utilize the end overs. A great man Tariq Bhai is, used to play as a guest player from our side in Ramadan Cup.. Well done Fawad

  • on March 9, 2014, 7:40 GMT

    Fawad Alam strike rate and avg is far better than that of Ahmed shehzad and Mohammad hafiz in ODI.He should play ODI and Test.

  • on March 9, 2014, 7:18 GMT

    Well Played Fawad! now you have proved your worth. Since beginning I am big fan of his batting temperament. Unfortunately he is not getting proper chances to prove his worth specially in ODIs and Test cricket. When he got a chance he grabbed it fully. I hope team management will give him proper chances in future too. I am cent percent agree with writer of this article that it would not be easy to forget his two superb inning 74 and 115. All the best Fawad for your bright future in permanent member of national team in ODIs and Test.

  • sherishahmir on March 9, 2014, 5:38 GMT

    Fawad Alam is really a good finisher, hope we find out the missing one in our batting who can take our team above the line in time to come. Well played Fawad Alam for his superb batting display.

  • on March 9, 2014, 4:47 GMT

    Fawad Alam is comfortably suitable for both ODI & Test format. He will be a handy tool for the WC 2015. He shud never play T20I in life.

  • Ray24 on March 9, 2014, 3:52 GMT

    Well played Pakistan. At 18 for 3, we thought it'll be a short game. The way Fawad made sure we bat out 50 overs and provide a competitive total was truly remarkable. Misbah has sort of doing this for the Pakistani team, but he always gets out when the time to accelerate comes, thereby giving him a good average, but not doing enough for the team. Here, Fawad ensured that the strike was rotated, he himself scored quickly when needed, maybe not the Afridi level hitting, but who can really match Afridi! I'll take a guy who scores a 100 at 85 S, he is always welcome to the Pakistani side. He should be a regular for tests and ODI's, maybe not the T20 type. Good luck!

  • on March 9, 2014, 2:18 GMT

    fawad averages 40 with bat where was he the whole time.

  • gannyboy on March 9, 2014, 1:27 GMT

    Well even though he performed well he still has a long way to go. Even though Fawad and Mishbah played well it was because of them that Pakistan ended up 15-20 runs short. Another problem with Fawad is he only has one big shot that is over the mid-wicket. As a batsmen he has a lot of areas to work on. But he has the ability to fight it out in the middle which is a great base for a batsmen to improve.

  • Guduji71 on March 9, 2014, 0:27 GMT

    Well done Fawad Alam. Finally, we have found a middle order lefty who can anchor the innings. I was impressed by his performance, along with Misbah. Good luck in future.

  • on March 8, 2014, 23:58 GMT

    Mention of him being in the T20 team is irrelevant. He is a MUST for the test side.

  • hmm32405 on March 8, 2014, 23:19 GMT

    Fawad Alam surely is a man desperately required by Pakistan in middle order. He is even better player than Misbahul Haq who is considered to be playing anchoring role for Pakistan batting line up. In Morning Waseem Akram gave a comment about Misbah that a man coming on this position gets very less chances to score a hundred. i wonder, how a man far less experienced than Misbah and coming even after him in batting line up could score 100 in just 29 ODIs where as Misbah could not do it even in 146 ODIs. He has better running between wickets, better ability to rotate strike even in pressure situations, has 41.6 and 46.5 average in Test and ODI respectively, has scored 168 (as highest) in just 3 tests and above all adjusts quickly not doing tuk tuk and spoiling average run rate. Given a chance, i am sure he will prove to be a better player than Misbah. So if Misbah can play, then Fawad should be part of Test and ODIs always though i will not support him for T20s.

  • on March 8, 2014, 21:49 GMT

    First time I am seeing a Michael Hussey/Bevan type player in Pakistan cricket team. He could be utilize better off at 3rd(ODI) or 5th(t20) number.

  • jhumpir on March 8, 2014, 21:43 GMT

    I think he should be in the permenent place of pakistan from now hopefully he will not be sideline again like in the past. His average is better then lots of current players. Even 20 overs game is lot of overs to play and singles and converting singles to doubles and hitting boundries on occassion he can be a great asset in T20 as well. Plus he is a great fielder. Wish he was in the T20 world cup for pakistan.

  • on March 8, 2014, 21:29 GMT

    Well played Fawad! he came when Pakistan was 18/3 and played very well.. at last we have found some realible finisher..

  • Zahidsaltin on March 8, 2014, 21:22 GMT

    Fawad was alway a better option than the other who have been given extended chances but never performed. Pakistani cricket politics kept him out for 3 years not becayse he did not perform enough in the first class where he enjoys an average 56, probabely the highest among those who have played 50 or more first class matches. He should have been included in the T20 squad to play at no. 3 or 4

  • on March 8, 2014, 21:00 GMT

    Fawad is full of promise and talent and that was obvious when he started playing for Pakistan in 2009 . Anyway for those who say he cant hit big shots , we can see he can but even if they are not as big as others we need some one who can play shots along the ground and keep running between wickets. Besides hes an exceptional fielder also. Weve got plenty of big hitters who cant take singles doubles and threes and be consistent and intelligent at the same time. Misbah , Hafeez , Akmal , Shehzad and ofcourse Afridi can all hit big sixes. Let them enjoy their sixes and well pray that huge sixes can win Pakistan cricket some games. Welcome back Fawad Alam .

  • on March 8, 2014, 20:32 GMT

    For those who cherish the sight of a beautiful on-drive and an upfront coverdrive to a quality pacer, the stance Fawad uses looks comical, but the way it helps him utilize the crease well is a surprise. My analogy made me to believe that he might struggle against quality pace bowling while yorkers are being bowled at him and might go for an LBW right away with the likes of Malinga, but he proved me wrong to my pleasure. I, very much like any other cricket fan am a huge fan of left-handed batsmen but would've hated the idea of having Fawad until the Bangladesh game. He has never looked good before. But today, he was exceptional. A complete package. If he continues this form and doesn't get carried away with a couple of good knocks, he's definitely the one for a future and I would wish him to be a 7000+ player!

  • on March 8, 2014, 20:14 GMT

    I feel he can feature in the test side as well at number 6. A fair opportunity in a couple of test series and he would become a very confident and reliable middle order batsman both in ODI and tests.

  • on March 8, 2014, 20:01 GMT

    he had a great comeback and been performing well in domestic events. should play in odi as well as in tests but not in t20s. thats where they wasted him last time. he is not t20 material.

    a solid middle order batsman is required by pakistan because our batting is too inconsistent. ahmed ? hafeez cant be trusted especially hafeez. maqsood has also habit of throwing away his starts. lower order is also hit and miss. we never know with afridi.

  • larkykid on March 8, 2014, 19:38 GMT

    I think Fawad could be an excellent addition to the T20 squad. He could be the anchor for the big hitters as you still need someone solid in the lineup in case of batting collapses and he's proved he can also hit the big shots!

  • on March 8, 2014, 19:16 GMT

    Fawad Alam is a very improved and reliable player for the one day side. Still not cut out for the T20 team. Would definitely prefer Shoaib Maqsood or Malik in place of him. Because he cant hit big shots easily, and you'd need that in T20 games. Still best of luck for his future.

  • on March 8, 2014, 19:07 GMT

    Very Well played fawad ! you surely has given a belief in the camp tt we can be a better chasing side ! ( which Misbah should have opted for today :( ) I hope Pakistan selection, if can , should call you for t-20 WC as its no harm in having a player who can occupy the crease at one end throughout 20 overs while the other end is busy seeking boundries ... Best of luck Greens !!!

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  • on March 8, 2014, 19:07 GMT

    Very Well played fawad ! you surely has given a belief in the camp tt we can be a better chasing side ! ( which Misbah should have opted for today :( ) I hope Pakistan selection, if can , should call you for t-20 WC as its no harm in having a player who can occupy the crease at one end throughout 20 overs while the other end is busy seeking boundries ... Best of luck Greens !!!

  • on March 8, 2014, 19:16 GMT

    Fawad Alam is a very improved and reliable player for the one day side. Still not cut out for the T20 team. Would definitely prefer Shoaib Maqsood or Malik in place of him. Because he cant hit big shots easily, and you'd need that in T20 games. Still best of luck for his future.

  • larkykid on March 8, 2014, 19:38 GMT

    I think Fawad could be an excellent addition to the T20 squad. He could be the anchor for the big hitters as you still need someone solid in the lineup in case of batting collapses and he's proved he can also hit the big shots!

  • on March 8, 2014, 20:01 GMT

    he had a great comeback and been performing well in domestic events. should play in odi as well as in tests but not in t20s. thats where they wasted him last time. he is not t20 material.

    a solid middle order batsman is required by pakistan because our batting is too inconsistent. ahmed ? hafeez cant be trusted especially hafeez. maqsood has also habit of throwing away his starts. lower order is also hit and miss. we never know with afridi.

  • on March 8, 2014, 20:14 GMT

    I feel he can feature in the test side as well at number 6. A fair opportunity in a couple of test series and he would become a very confident and reliable middle order batsman both in ODI and tests.

  • on March 8, 2014, 20:32 GMT

    For those who cherish the sight of a beautiful on-drive and an upfront coverdrive to a quality pacer, the stance Fawad uses looks comical, but the way it helps him utilize the crease well is a surprise. My analogy made me to believe that he might struggle against quality pace bowling while yorkers are being bowled at him and might go for an LBW right away with the likes of Malinga, but he proved me wrong to my pleasure. I, very much like any other cricket fan am a huge fan of left-handed batsmen but would've hated the idea of having Fawad until the Bangladesh game. He has never looked good before. But today, he was exceptional. A complete package. If he continues this form and doesn't get carried away with a couple of good knocks, he's definitely the one for a future and I would wish him to be a 7000+ player!

  • on March 8, 2014, 21:00 GMT

    Fawad is full of promise and talent and that was obvious when he started playing for Pakistan in 2009 . Anyway for those who say he cant hit big shots , we can see he can but even if they are not as big as others we need some one who can play shots along the ground and keep running between wickets. Besides hes an exceptional fielder also. Weve got plenty of big hitters who cant take singles doubles and threes and be consistent and intelligent at the same time. Misbah , Hafeez , Akmal , Shehzad and ofcourse Afridi can all hit big sixes. Let them enjoy their sixes and well pray that huge sixes can win Pakistan cricket some games. Welcome back Fawad Alam .

  • Zahidsaltin on March 8, 2014, 21:22 GMT

    Fawad was alway a better option than the other who have been given extended chances but never performed. Pakistani cricket politics kept him out for 3 years not becayse he did not perform enough in the first class where he enjoys an average 56, probabely the highest among those who have played 50 or more first class matches. He should have been included in the T20 squad to play at no. 3 or 4

  • on March 8, 2014, 21:29 GMT

    Well played Fawad! he came when Pakistan was 18/3 and played very well.. at last we have found some realible finisher..

  • jhumpir on March 8, 2014, 21:43 GMT

    I think he should be in the permenent place of pakistan from now hopefully he will not be sideline again like in the past. His average is better then lots of current players. Even 20 overs game is lot of overs to play and singles and converting singles to doubles and hitting boundries on occassion he can be a great asset in T20 as well. Plus he is a great fielder. Wish he was in the T20 world cup for pakistan.