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Faisal Iqbal hopes to carve out spot for himself

Umar Farooq

August 29, 2013

Comments: 26 | Text size: A | A

Faisal Iqbal drives straight down the ground, Australia v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Sydney, 2nd day, January 4, 2010
Faisal Iqbal hasn't played for Pakistan since 2010 © Getty Images
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Series/Tournaments: Pakistan tour of Zimbabwe
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Another tour, another opportunity and more hope for middle-order batsman Faisal Iqbal to find his identity within the Pakistan team. Since his debut in 2001, Faisal operated mostly as a "replacement player", in the shadow of Mohammad Yousuf and Inzamam-ul-Haq, and was never able to cement his place in the team.

He has played 26 Test matches over the past 12 years. He last played for Pakistan in 2010 but was part of the Test squad for last one year without being part of the playing XI. He was retained in the squad for the two-match Test series against Zimbabwe but uncertainty looms over his chances to play. Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Asad Shafiq and Misbah-ul-Haq ahead of Iqbal in the pecking order to occupy the middle-order spots, while Mohammad Hafeez and Khurram Manzoor will mostly be preferred to open the innings. Should he get the chance, the Zimbabwe Tests, he knows, could be crucial for his career.

"I always have been treated as a replacement in past. I was actually groomed to take over from Inzamam or Yousuf once they were done with their careers, but unfortunately I have been deprived," Iqbal told ESPNcricinfo. "For most of my career, since my [international] debut, I have kept waiting for a proper slot so that I could play as a permanent player, and I am obviously disappointed. But I am always optimistic and ready to grab the chance.

"It would be great to get games in succession to prove myself. I obviously won't be looking at Zimbabwe as an easy opponent as, for a batsman, it's all about one good ball. They are after all an international side and every run is important against them. I have plenty of experience and even scored an ODI hundred in Zimbabwe, so things won't be alien for me."

Iqbal, who is a nephew of former captain Javed Miandad, had a prolific career at junior level, from his time with the Under-15s. But his time with the seniors has, for the most part, been overshadowed by allegations of nepotism, something Faisal describes as a "daunting factor" and one of the major blows for his career.

"I might have been victimised in past and things have not been fair for me," he said. "I am a professional player and have never taken my cricket for granted. I have scored runs on the ground with my own hands, haven't I?"

He has often impressed on comeback: after his first recall in 2002, he scored 83 against Australia; then came 139 against India - the highlight of his career - which helped Pakistan to a 341-run victory in Karachi in 2006. In that fateful series against Sri Lanka in early 2009, he scored a half-century in his first innings back. His problem, though, has been consistency. A lack thereof has resulted in him being repeatedly dropped.

Faisal will be hoping to get his chance on September 3, when Pakistan face off against Zimbabwe in Harare for the first of two Tests. This time, he'll hope to make that good start and go on to build on it.

Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (September 2, 2013, 16:29 GMT)

@Asma Ahmad Virk - If you think Junaid Zia had potential, you don't know jack about cricket. The only part of your comment that I agree with is "Junaid Zia disappeared because of the same issues". That's right, but let me tell you what the issues were: 1) The guy wasn't good enough. 2) He simply wasn't good enough. 3) He just wasn't good enough. He shouldn't have played even school cricket with his flawed bowling action. He was a blatant chucker. He probably did it to add to his pace but despite throwing the ball instead of bowling it, he wasn't that quick. He was a medium pace chucker. He managed to play a few international matches courtesy of his father, but that is only as far as his father could take him. From there on, he needed to perform to survive which he couldn't. Although Faisal Iqbal is a little better cricketer than Junaid Zia, I think he's had his fair share of chances. Nonetheless, if he does well in the domestic circuit consistently, he has every right to be selected.

Posted by Crick_Expert on (September 2, 2013, 12:22 GMT)

PAK TEST team should as 1)Hafeez 2)Nasir 3)Ahmed Shahzad/Shan Massood 4)Younis Khan 5)Misbah 6)Umar Amin/Soaib Maqsood 7)AFRIDI/Rehman/Ajmal 8)Sarfraz 9)Junaid 10)Wahab/Irfan

Please don't include Asad Safiq, Sohail Tanvir, Fasaial Iqbal, Fawad etc..

Posted by Omar-Briganto on (September 1, 2013, 10:29 GMT)

Neither Faisal Iqbal nor Fawad Alam deserve a chance in Pakistan team, they both are no good. Instead of these old tried and tested no talent players, they should be giving chances to other young guys.

Fawad Alam had enough chances when Afridi and younas were captains and he could not prove that he is a top class player.

They should have given a chance to Nasir Jamshed as an opener and make him train like a soldier because I feel he is lazy and does not train hard, he need to shed some serious amount of weight. He need some hard training plan, I am afraid he is on his way becoming a mini inzi.

Posted by   on (September 1, 2013, 7:28 GMT)

I have been missing Fawad Alam lately, his magnificent 168 did not deserve to be underrated to a large extent. Faisal Iqbal has been around here for like decades yet he is to settle down his pillars in the middle of the ground and score a technically correct hundred. I have seen him a long time ago and on different occasions. His 139 was a good knock and his ability to loft fast bowlers straight down the ground with minimal footwork is a highlight and has often led to his downfall. Still, I feel he should be given a chance, I would also like to see Fawad back in the squad but it would be hard to accommodate them in the line-up. Lets see what happens and I feel Mark Vermeulen should get another go at the Test level.

Posted by   on (September 1, 2013, 6:39 GMT)

There were too much expectations from this boy namely Faisal iqbal but he had never been to any close to that , he is of a little showman type player who want to be big on the others shoulder , and whenever he is fifty up he thinks he has done wonders and you can see a sea of changes in his attitude on the ground, he was given undue share of media and he never prove to be what we were expecting from his talent , disappointment and again given him another chance,AAH the selection.

Posted by avmd on (August 31, 2013, 1:58 GMT)

I'm very worried, what if he scored some runs against the weak Zim bowling, we'll be stuck with him for another year or so and a talented young batsman will miss his chance.

Posted by musa7100 on (August 30, 2013, 8:02 GMT)

I don't know on which performance they are taking Faisal Iqbal .he is taking the place of young fawad alam who averages 55 in first class.why they not are recommending fawad alam.

Posted by   on (August 30, 2013, 6:22 GMT)

there is such a good team in Pakistan but no one says anything Sami aslam, babar azam, Mohammed hafeez, Misbah up haq, Fawad alam hammad azam, Mohammed rizwan, Mohammed Amir, junaid khan, Mohammed Irfan, Rasa Hassan

12 man haris sohail

there is no need for ajmal and Afridi when you have four quality fast bowlers(Amir, azam, Irfan, unpaid) and an economical and wicket taking YOUNG spinner (hafeez and Hassan) and youngsters are willing to play cricket for there country, not for there salary

Posted by JungleGym on (August 30, 2013, 3:14 GMT)

He was being groomed to replace Inzi? Faisal Iqbal was and remains a joke; no wonder people raise eye brows whenever he makes yet another comeback to the squad. Took us multiple series failures to finally get rid of Shoaib Malik! Back to square one... It's unfortunate!

Posted by Fahd on (August 30, 2013, 3:08 GMT)

Faisal Iqbal, you don't deserve to be playing for Pakistan or playing International cricket. I wanted you to succeed when you started playing cricket, but you never justified your team selection. 26 test matches and 44 innings and only 1 century. How can that be a case to be included? You are lucky and Asim Kamal was unlucky. He proved to be a much better player than you in only 8 matches, but unfortunately, his career was also ruined by PCB. Fawad Alam seems to be another career that PCB is set to ruin. I would like to see talented players like Hammad Azam give more test chances for the future of Pakistan cricket. I hope Asad Shafiq plays instead of you in Zimbabwe.

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