It was a Faysal Bank Twenty20 debut to remember for Faisalabad Wolves batsman Asif Ali. The 19-year-old Ali smashed a century to set up a match-winning total for his team against Multan Tigers in the opening game of the tournament.
Ali, who has worked as a blacksmith and has played only three first-class games, showed no sign of nerves when he came in to bat at No. 3, after Faisalabad lost opener Mohammad Hafeez off the first ball of the match. He put on 125 in 13 overs with Asif Hussain and went on to get his hundred in the company of Pakistan and Faisalabad captain Misbah-ul-Haq, with whom he added 52 runs in five overs. He was dismissed in the 19th over, after making 100 off just 59 balls with nine fours and seven sixes.
"Ali played an exceptional innings," Misbah said. "Such innings are very rare from someone batting on his debut and this is a good sign for us."
Multan captain Abdur Rauf said Ali's innings was the difference between the two teams. "The youngster took the game away from us as he was unstoppable and it's great to see someone play such a knock on his debut," he said.
Ali was named Man of the Match and Faisalabad coach Ijaz Ahmed jnr said he looked an exciting prospect for the future, and called for his inclusion in the national side. "He [Ali] is an extraordinary player and the selectors should look at him because I believe he will go on to become a star for Pakistan," he said.
"I'm amazed the way he played. At the same time, I'm astonished at how we failed to spot such a talent in the last two to three years because last time around, he was a part of the squad but wasn't given a chance."