Shehzad dedicates ton to critics
Ahmed Shehzad, the first Pakistan batsman to make a T20 century, has dedicated his knock to all those who have criticised him, as well as to those who have admired him. Shehzad said people had started writing him off too early after two failures against India and Australia in the World T20, and that he was proud to have achieved such a landmark under pressure. Pakistan, by virtue of their 50-run rout of Bangladesh, have set up a virtual quarter-final against West Indies on Tuesday.
Shehzad appeared to be in the mood for retribution, as his first answer was not exactly related to what he had been asked - how had some batsmen such as him, Virat Kohli and Glenn Maxwell been able to perform in conditions where several others had struggled to score freely.
"To be very honest, I have been listening to so many things after the last two games," Shehzad said. "This is what happens in cricket. When you don't play good in couple of games, (there is) pressure on you. But this is when you have to show your character.
"I backed myself and the coaches and the captain [had faith in me]. I would like to thank whoever supported me. I was sticking to my game plan. Wasn't trying to do anything extra but that was my aim: to pick up the bowlers first and make sure I go after them.
"Very proud because before coming here, that was my aim - that in the pool games itself, I need to make a century," he said. "To become the first Pakistani player to have a century in all three formats. Feel proud. (Want to dedicate it) to all those who criticised me and those who love me. It is for all those people who have said anything about me - good, bad, whoever it is. It is my gift to them, it is my gift to the entire Pakistan, for people outside as well."
Shehzad continued to hit out at his critics, saying people should not draw conclusions about a player on the basis of one or two innings. He also added that his unbeaten 98 in Zimbabwe last year had given him confidence that he could make a T20 hundred some day. "In Harare, I like that innings because I had not secured my ODI position. I was on a comeback. To score an innings like that at that time, that gave me a lot of happiness. Yes, I did miss a hundred but I felt that I have got this close, I can achieve more than that as well.
"Today, when I was 70-odd, Shoaib Malik was batting with me, he said you can comfortably make a hundred. This is what the plan was, that I bat through 20 overs, the captain's message came that you play 20 overs and let the rest bat around you. What happens in T20 is that one or two individuals perform. Whoever is set, it is important to anchor the innings and take the rest with him. This is what I tried today which happened. This is something that doesn't happen every day.
"Unfortunately, we must all understand that T20 is the kind of format where the margin of error for the bowlers is very less but the batsman must also try a lot of different things because of which he can be out as well. It is important for everyone to understand that you should not judge a player on the basis of one or two innings. The team is selected on an individual's abilities and his past performances."
Having said what he wanted to in the presence of his captain, Shehzad then strode out with a smile, sharing a high-five with Mohammad Hafeez.
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo