Saqlain Mushtaq September 30, 2012

Getting to grips with the doosra

Interview by Jack Wilson
Saqlain Mushtaq learnt to bowl the other one with a table tennis ball, did you know?

First time I realised I could bowl the doosra
I first worked out a way of bowling it when I was 13. I was playing with a table tennis ball on the roof of our house. The problem was, it was easy to get my fingers round the table tennis ball, but with a cricket ball I couldn't do it. I kept practising and practising and eventually moved from being able to bowl it with a table tennis ball to being able to bowl it with a tennis ball. Once I'd mastered bowling it with a tennis ball I moved on to a cricket ball.

First pair of cricket whites
All the kit I had when I was younger was my brother's, so it would have been a set of his. He was older than me, so I used to share all his gear - but it was all far too big for me.

First big cricket match
I played my first proper match with a hard ball when I was 12. I couldn't wait to play a real game, as cricket had been a massive part of my childhood. I got all my whites ready and laid out in the morning - I was looking forward to it so much.

First time you were called up by Pakistan
It was a dream come true. All the hard work I'd put in had paid off. It was a mixture of excitement and anticipation at the chance of following in the footsteps of some amazing players to represent my country. I was playing in Rawalpindi at the time and the squad had been announced on the radio. I hadn't heard it myself but someone came up to me and said I was in it. I couldn't believe it, but then I got a call from my manager confirming the news.

First hat-trick
I bowled a lot of overs in youth cricket and club cricket but my first hat-trick didn't come until 1999* in the World Cup. We were playing Zimbabwe at The Oval and I managed to clean up the tail. I kept the ball from that game and I still have it in my hall.

*Saqlain got his first international hat-trick in 1996, also against Zimbabwe

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