'Ordinary' Abid Ali takes his chance and seals his place in history
Having finally broken into the Test team, batsman is determined to 'serve Pakistan with distinction'
Twelve years in domestic cricket, 7116 runs in 106 first-class games, averaging 57.43 in the last three seasons. In contention for two years, Abid Ali
finally managed to play a Test on a historic occasion with Pakistan hosting the longer format for the first time in 10 years.
Having made his first-class debut among many who grew up at a time when international cricket was absent from the country, Abid made his maiden Test appearance at the age of 31. And he made the most of it by scoring a century, becoming the only player in history to reach three figures in his first Test and ODI.
Being "thankful for a chance", Abid recalled the persistence and hard work that played a major part in his success. He had been with the team for more than a year but could not break into a congested top order which also included Fakhar Zaman
and Shan Masood
When Pakistan rested their leading ODI players ahead of the World Cup, Abid earned a rare chance against Australia in UAE and made it a dream debut with a hundred. He travelled with the team to England only to be ignored for the World Cup squad. In his previous outing with Pakistan to Australia he again missed out making into the XI for the entire series.
"I had never grumbled upon being ignored," said Abid. "I had patience and I had a belief that my time will come and then I will prove what I am capable of.
"I had been with the team and kept my fitness level high and keep on working on my skills set with small plans. I knew someday I will get a chance and I was always ready for it. Thankfully I got it and a hundred on debut is what else you ask for. I waited long for this very day to come and here I am."
Abid hails from Lahore and is a product of Shafqat Rana Academy in the Race Course Park in the centre of the city. He often struggled to make it into the squad for his own region and was forced to play elsewhere. He had a lengthy association with the Islamabad region and represented Baluchistan province. Most recently, he failed to find a place in his own provincial side, Central Punjab, and was drafted to Sindh where he averaged 76.75, scoring 307 runs in five innings with a highest score of 249 not out.
Despite Imam sitting on the bench and Sami Aslam
knocking on the door, Abid said he had not felt uncomfortable.
"I know there is a competition around me but it has increased a lot recently but all I know is that I have to keep on performing to stay relevant," Abid said. "I need to raise my game and with every chance I have to perform well.
"I had never complained, rather I have the self-belief that what is up for me I will get it. I waited for my time and finally I got it. It would be a great disappointment for me if I hadn't performed but thanks to God that all my hard work is rewarded."
Along with Azhar Ali
, Abid shared an 87-run stand for the second wicket which at times lacked synchronisation. Both scored at the rate of 3.0 and were involved in mix-ups that nearly had them run out on two occasions. With in-form batsman Babar Azam
, Abid looked more comfortable and added an unbeaten 162-run stand at a rate of 4.24.
"Babar is a world-class player and he is very well-respected," he said. "He was the one who really gave me confidence to stay put and wait for the bad ball. I was bit nervous when in the 90s but he carried me all along and saw me through my hundred.
"One of the mix-ups with Azhar it was actually my mistake ... as we never played together ever so had trouble in making calls but with the innings going we got settled."
Despite being nicknamed "legend", Abid urged fans and journalists to not relate him with big names in cricket.
"I am an ordinary player and I can't match those great players," he said. "I am Abid Ali and please see me as Abid Ali only. I, being down to earth, would like to keep on performing and serve Pakistan with distinction. The crowd supporting us really doubled up my confidence so I am thankful to the crowd for coming to the game and backing us."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent