Pakistan v England 2011-12 February 9, 2012

Awais Zia ready for Pakistan chance

39

The route from Chakwal in northern Pakistan to the UAE will mark the start of Awais Zia's journey into international cricket. Called into Pakistan's Twenty20 squad to play England, Zia is expected to bring some flair and power hitting to the top of the order - and the nerves are already mixing with excitement.

"A new journey has started and I am a bit nervous," Zia, who was travelling between Multan and his home village of Bhown, told ESPNcricinfo. "I used to believe that it's not easy to be selected for the international team in Pakistan. It's a long journey but ultimately all the hard work has paid off and now another chapter of my career has started. I am excited and privileged to hold his opportunity because I am the one who is selected from millions playing cricket in the country. "

Although he made his first-class debut in 2007, it was only last season that Zia caught the Pakistan selectors' attention, with a series of impressive, televised performances for Rawalpindi Rams in the Faysal Bank T20. Zia, 25, served further notice of his promise by scoring 353 runs - with two hundreds, off 44 and 52 balls respectively - at an average of more than 70 for Pakistan in the SAARC Twenty20 Cup, an Under-25s competition in the Maldives, towards the end of 2011. He was the Man of the Tournament.

"I knew that the only way to catch the selectors' attention was to make a big impact and T20 cricket served my purpose, mainly because matches are broadcast on television," Zia said. "Obviously they are calling me a Twenty20 specialist, maybe because most of my T20 games I played in Pakistan were televised but not the first-class games. But that isn't in my focus - I've been given a big platform to establish myself."

Zia said he had not talked with the selectors about his prospects but that the Rawalpindi coach Sabhi Azhar and team-mate Sohail Tanvir had been pushing him to take his chance.

"I know what exactly I have to do now," Zia said. "What I wanted was a single chance and I am terribly lucky to get a chance to play against a team like England. I am positive about it as I am young, energetic and have plenty of time to serve the country."

Zia, marked down as an explosive opener, hopes to "cross" Shahid Afridi in the field and combine fast scoring with the temperament to play longer innings. "I am not comparing myself to Afridi in powerful hitting as he is so good at it," Zia said. "But my focus always is to play powerful and longer innings. I love to spend time on pitch and hit runs off every ball. I am fortunate to get a chance on pitches like in the UAE, and England are a top side to play against."

The Pakistan selectors have been searching for a long-term opener in the T20 side and they may have found their man in Zia.

"This guy is confident with the bat," selector Azhar Khan told ESPNcricinfo. "I am labelling him a T20 specialist. I know he's got temperament for the big cricket as well but now he has to prove himself to see how far he can go. Selecting a young player is always tough and a risk, but we took a lot of time to select him. He was sent to Maldives for a tryout and he came up as the best batsman of the tournament so we had to pick him up."

"The transition process in the team never stops, it's an ongoing process but we don't want to disturb the consistency of the team as well. We always look for a space to test players, as we are deprived from hosting international teams, and bilateral series, both at the top and the domestic level, are on hold. So most of our players remained untested."

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on February 12, 2012, 14:41 GMT

    Maldives and Ssri Lanka are not worthy opposition. His record does not show any shining reason he should have been selected, surely there are more worthy players out there?

  • on February 12, 2012, 8:57 GMT

    If we can get rid and kick out people like Mohammed Ilyas (Father in Law of Imran Farhat) than things will definitely get better. Awais Zia along with Ahmed Shahzad can be best openers in T20 Cricket.

  • on February 12, 2012, 8:19 GMT

    Why everyone is against imran farhat? He has Perform really well in the last matches he's got a good 50 agnst afgh and imran nazir cant come in the team bcoz look at his performance in pakistan domestic he hasn't batted well but i think instead of him the selectors have to Think about ahmad Shahzad he is the futur of Pak cricket

  • gr8asad84 on February 12, 2012, 7:56 GMT

    @saffyking Their is no doubt about the skills of Imran Nazir but he lacks temprament...to play international cricket you need a lot of temprament and surely after giving him lots of chances he never learnt from mistakes. Hence I think Imran Nazir is Past...However Ahmad Shehzad and Awais Zia can be future. I have seen Ahmad Shehzad in BPL and he is scorring but again he tries to smack every ball which is the big flow...lets see how Awais responds

  • on February 12, 2012, 7:38 GMT

    i guess ahmed shahzad is having a bright future in T20

  • on February 12, 2012, 6:39 GMT

    Misbah shud take retirement after wc t20 later this year afridi or may be hafeez could be a good choice n then bring all youngsters in t20 side n let them pr4m or make a young captain like u.akmal or asad shafiq for t20 n groom new captain for future u.akmal is defienetly a future captain awais zia iz not a youngster he iz 32 or 33 i think so bring some fresh blood in the team this playing 11 might b good for t20 after t20 wc 1.imran nazir 2.mohammad hafeez 3.awais zia 4.ahmed shehzad 5.rameez raja 6.umar akmal 7.afridi(cpt) 8.sarfaraz 9.wahab 10.gul 11.saeed

  • on February 11, 2012, 22:06 GMT

    Zia opening with Nasir Jamshed/Ahmed Shahzad is future of Pakistan T20 cricket if the selectors get rid of Imran Farhat then these class players would get chance to prove themselves.

  • on February 11, 2012, 16:20 GMT

    well i have seen him in the Faysal Bank T20, the domestic league of Pakistan .... believe me he is very explosive in early overs but the challenge for him will 'SWANN' ... i am not 100% but 75% to Swanny and 25% to Awais Zia.

  • fataquie on February 11, 2012, 14:38 GMT

    I think Imram Nazir is WAYYYY BETTER than Farhat or Taufiq Omar. England will ball short and Nazir can play the pull shot!

  • on February 11, 2012, 13:40 GMT

    i am really happy for this selection ...:) He can be One of Best opener from Team Pakistan..:) May He gets the chance and scores good in t20..

  • on February 12, 2012, 14:41 GMT

    Maldives and Ssri Lanka are not worthy opposition. His record does not show any shining reason he should have been selected, surely there are more worthy players out there?

  • on February 12, 2012, 8:57 GMT

    If we can get rid and kick out people like Mohammed Ilyas (Father in Law of Imran Farhat) than things will definitely get better. Awais Zia along with Ahmed Shahzad can be best openers in T20 Cricket.

  • on February 12, 2012, 8:19 GMT

    Why everyone is against imran farhat? He has Perform really well in the last matches he's got a good 50 agnst afgh and imran nazir cant come in the team bcoz look at his performance in pakistan domestic he hasn't batted well but i think instead of him the selectors have to Think about ahmad Shahzad he is the futur of Pak cricket

  • gr8asad84 on February 12, 2012, 7:56 GMT

    @saffyking Their is no doubt about the skills of Imran Nazir but he lacks temprament...to play international cricket you need a lot of temprament and surely after giving him lots of chances he never learnt from mistakes. Hence I think Imran Nazir is Past...However Ahmad Shehzad and Awais Zia can be future. I have seen Ahmad Shehzad in BPL and he is scorring but again he tries to smack every ball which is the big flow...lets see how Awais responds

  • on February 12, 2012, 7:38 GMT

    i guess ahmed shahzad is having a bright future in T20

  • on February 12, 2012, 6:39 GMT

    Misbah shud take retirement after wc t20 later this year afridi or may be hafeez could be a good choice n then bring all youngsters in t20 side n let them pr4m or make a young captain like u.akmal or asad shafiq for t20 n groom new captain for future u.akmal is defienetly a future captain awais zia iz not a youngster he iz 32 or 33 i think so bring some fresh blood in the team this playing 11 might b good for t20 after t20 wc 1.imran nazir 2.mohammad hafeez 3.awais zia 4.ahmed shehzad 5.rameez raja 6.umar akmal 7.afridi(cpt) 8.sarfaraz 9.wahab 10.gul 11.saeed

  • on February 11, 2012, 22:06 GMT

    Zia opening with Nasir Jamshed/Ahmed Shahzad is future of Pakistan T20 cricket if the selectors get rid of Imran Farhat then these class players would get chance to prove themselves.

  • on February 11, 2012, 16:20 GMT

    well i have seen him in the Faysal Bank T20, the domestic league of Pakistan .... believe me he is very explosive in early overs but the challenge for him will 'SWANN' ... i am not 100% but 75% to Swanny and 25% to Awais Zia.

  • fataquie on February 11, 2012, 14:38 GMT

    I think Imram Nazir is WAYYYY BETTER than Farhat or Taufiq Omar. England will ball short and Nazir can play the pull shot!

  • on February 11, 2012, 13:40 GMT

    i am really happy for this selection ...:) He can be One of Best opener from Team Pakistan..:) May He gets the chance and scores good in t20..

  • Hasan999 on February 11, 2012, 11:32 GMT

    Awais Zia, if you are reading this, PLEASE be yourself and play your own skillful game- Do not try to 'firm' your position by playing slowly to stay longer; you can firm your position easily by playing attacking knocks even if that is for a short duration.- That is what the team needs. Good luck :)

  • on February 11, 2012, 7:01 GMT

    He is Much Better than Imran Nazir, Imran Nazir has given so much of CHance but he did not avail those chances, but Awais zia is much better choice and if he is going to be selected in ODI then there would be Huge Beating for English Bowlers from Owaiz Zia.Gud Luck for future Awais

  • saffyking on February 11, 2012, 5:03 GMT

    I THINK IMRAN NAZIR WOULD BE A WAY BEETER CHOICE FOR PAKISTAN IF HE PLAYED OPENER IN T20!! I DONT NO WHY THEY DONT CHOOSE HIM IN THE T20 SQUAD

  • on February 10, 2012, 22:21 GMT

    Proof of the pudding lies in the eating... All the best to the new kid on the block!

  • cricket_pak419 on February 10, 2012, 21:42 GMT

    Thats great the Pakistan selectors have found a good one. Now the real thing they have to do is understand that odi is much different game then t20. You have to select different batsmn for the game. Ahmed shehazad has just recently scored a fifty today in the BPL. He could be a great striker for the team. Those who say drop Misbah are not using thier common sense. If you see in the records he has the most runs for Pakistan in a t20. Just he plays slow in test doesnt mean he will play slow in all formats. Good luck Pakistan!

  • SameerA66 on February 10, 2012, 15:46 GMT

    he will rock and roll against Eng.

  • on February 10, 2012, 15:08 GMT

    A few days ago, i was talking with my cousin about awais zia and he said he is like Adam Gilchrist for Pakistan if he got chance.We saw him playing and will appreciate Selector for selecting a pure talent and also Umar Farooq for writing an article. May he perform well against England and many more for Pakistan.

  • on February 10, 2012, 14:58 GMT

    He's a talented Young boy i appriciate his batting technique and style & i love his playing style he can hit the bowl really hard and he's a powerfull player so if he got chance and i hope he awail the chance and he's proves INSHALLAH my best wishes wid him.GOOD luck Boy

  • smartguy786 on February 10, 2012, 12:46 GMT

    Is he the NEw Shaid Afridi, I hope so and pray for his success.

  • on February 10, 2012, 10:53 GMT

    Best of luck young zia. hope you'll prove yourself the real candidate for the tough job of opening the batting.

  • on February 10, 2012, 10:30 GMT

    great ................................................................................

  • on February 10, 2012, 8:10 GMT

    but what about ramiz raja??..he was also among the top performers in last t20 cup.. he can be a long term 1 down batsman for pakistan..azhar ali dont deserve an odi spot..his strike rate is not even 50.

  • on February 10, 2012, 5:13 GMT

    He is a solid performer and can do it under pressure. I am waiting to see him rock in Sharjah.. Best of luck..

  • Cuptaan on February 10, 2012, 4:32 GMT

    Not only is he a fine opening batsmen Awais is a good fielder and wicket keeper. He is a fearless batsmen and knows his game plan very well. I expect him to take his chance and score some big runs.

  • TitooMomo on February 10, 2012, 3:46 GMT

    May Allah bless him and pakistan

  • on February 10, 2012, 3:39 GMT

    I wish u all the luck bro i want u to perform not only for urslef but for the pakistan cricket cuz if u perform well there is a chance that all of us can get rid of Imran Farhat

  • shahid9522 on February 10, 2012, 2:35 GMT

    best of luck awais, hoping that you will kick out that farhat guy from T20 and ODI's. all the best

  • Zahidsaltin on February 9, 2012, 22:46 GMT

    stay free of taking pressure of playing England and thoughts of not performing. Believe in God and that if you are destined to become a great player then you will. Just play as you are playing against Multan.

  • on February 9, 2012, 22:43 GMT

    All the best Zia ! Make the most out of it and maintain the standards of this country that produces exceptional young talent in cricket ALHAMDULLILAH

  • doosra95 on February 9, 2012, 21:27 GMT

    wish all the best!!!!!!!!!!

  • on February 9, 2012, 21:15 GMT

    all the best lad. Always wanted Sharjeel Khan and Zia playing together for Pakistan.

  • on February 9, 2012, 20:41 GMT

    Best of luck awais bhai inshallah you Will perform

  • on February 9, 2012, 19:26 GMT

    Welcome to the world of International cricket and I believe he will be a player like Viru or Warner for pakistan for next decade.

  • on February 9, 2012, 18:29 GMT

    gud luck to awais zia....can't forget his super over inning in T20 final. hope he can replace Imran Farhat Forever.

  • on February 9, 2012, 18:29 GMT

    Best of Luck Awais, I hope and pray for your success.

  • on February 9, 2012, 18:11 GMT

    He is a brilliant batsman.. He should prove himself in International cricket and he will prove INSHAALLAH..

  • on February 9, 2012, 17:58 GMT

    I have seen this lad playing in faisal bank t20 for Rawalpindi Rams, he hits the cricket ball so good.I was always missing Imran Nazir but i don't think i will miss him after having zia on the side.I have never been so excited for a newcomer to the international cricket then zia.

  • Stark62 on February 9, 2012, 17:35 GMT

    Your very lucky to be selected!

    People say his like Warner but I would much rather have the next Saed Anwar in the form of Nasir Jamshed any day.

  • on February 9, 2012, 17:12 GMT

    Wonderful player, I think. Certainly he will make big difference in his first International match.

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  • on February 9, 2012, 17:12 GMT

    Wonderful player, I think. Certainly he will make big difference in his first International match.

  • Stark62 on February 9, 2012, 17:35 GMT

    Your very lucky to be selected!

    People say his like Warner but I would much rather have the next Saed Anwar in the form of Nasir Jamshed any day.

  • on February 9, 2012, 17:58 GMT

    I have seen this lad playing in faisal bank t20 for Rawalpindi Rams, he hits the cricket ball so good.I was always missing Imran Nazir but i don't think i will miss him after having zia on the side.I have never been so excited for a newcomer to the international cricket then zia.

  • on February 9, 2012, 18:11 GMT

    He is a brilliant batsman.. He should prove himself in International cricket and he will prove INSHAALLAH..

  • on February 9, 2012, 18:29 GMT

    Best of Luck Awais, I hope and pray for your success.

  • on February 9, 2012, 18:29 GMT

    gud luck to awais zia....can't forget his super over inning in T20 final. hope he can replace Imran Farhat Forever.

  • on February 9, 2012, 19:26 GMT

    Welcome to the world of International cricket and I believe he will be a player like Viru or Warner for pakistan for next decade.

  • on February 9, 2012, 20:41 GMT

    Best of luck awais bhai inshallah you Will perform

  • on February 9, 2012, 21:15 GMT

    all the best lad. Always wanted Sharjeel Khan and Zia playing together for Pakistan.

  • doosra95 on February 9, 2012, 21:27 GMT

    wish all the best!!!!!!!!!!