Pakistan news August 28, 2009

Arafat raring for comeback

Cricinfo staff

Yasir Arafat, the Pakistan allrounder, is determined to win his place back in the Pakistan team after being excluded from the squad picked for the Champions Trophy. Arafat, who plays for Khan Research Laboratories in Pakistan's domestic circuit, said he is keen to do his utmost in the domestic season to win the selectors' nod.

"It's disappointing to miss out on selection for the Champions Trophy next month in South Africa, but I'm keen to work hard and impress the selectors," he told in an interview. "It's an important domestic season ahead for a lot of players including myself and my intentions are to remain fully fit and in good form for KRL so that the selectors take note of my performances."

Arafat added that he had spoken to Pakistan captain Younis Khan about his being left out of the squad. "None of the selectors contacted me, but it was great of Younis Khan to give me a call while he was in the UK," he said. "Despite Younis' hectic schedule on his fund-raising tour he told me to keep my chin up, not to feel too down about not being selected and to continue to work hard at my cricket and see what opportunities arise in future."

However, in the meantime, Arafat is excited about representing Sussex in the Champions Twenty20 League in October. Sussex qualified for the tournament after making it to the finals of the Twenty20 Cup which they went on to win, beating Somerset, the other team to qualify for the tournament, with a 63-run win at Edgbaston. Arafat is part of a 20-man squad which includes West Indies allrounder Dwayne Smith and Indian legspinner Piyush Chawla. Fifteen out of the current squad of 20 will tour India for the competition.

"It should be a fantastic tournament and I'm really looking forward to it," Arafat told in an interview. "We are in Group B and will play New South Wales and the Eagles from South Africa and I'm hopeful that we'll do well and finish in the top 2 and qualify for the next stage".

Arafat had suffered a setback during the ICC World Twenty20, where Pakistan emerged triumphant, as he was withdrawn from the squad after sustaining an injured hamstring. "My hamstring tear was a bad injury and just one of those things that was out of my control," he said. "It was a nine millimetre tear and whilst the PCB asked me if I wanted to return to Pakistan for treatment, I opted to go back to Sussex and let the medical team there work on the injury and then continue with the county season. Injuries of course are part and parcel of the game, but the hamstring tear came at such a bad time for me."

But the recovery has done Arafat a world of good and he impressed in the Twenty20 Cup in England, taking 15 wickets in ten games at an average of 14, including 2 for 14 in the final. His record in the longer version, in the County Championship, however, has been less than satisfactory: he's played five games with 12 wickets at 51.75. Still, Arafat said he enjoyed the experience. "I'm really enjoying it this season at Sussex, we have been doing really well and of course the Twenty/20 Cup victory at Birmingham was fantastic," he said. "Twenty20 finals day was a great experience and winning the trophy was such a boost for the whole squad."