Pakistan middle-order batter Saud Shakeel is looking forward to the two-match Test series against Sri Lanka, which begins on Sunday in Galle.
The left-hander said that Pakistan have prepared adequately for the series away from home.
“We have had good preparations leading into this series with camps in Lahore and Karachi,” Saud told PCB Digital. “I’ve focused on enhancing my skills and adding a few more shots in the repertoire. There was a specific focus on spin during the camp in Lahore, which gave me good practice to counter spin on the turning tracks here.”
Saud also highlighted the importance of the sweep shot bearing in mind the spin-friendly conditions in Sri Lanka.
“I’ve also focused on how I can score runs in Sri Lanka conditions, because at the end it is the runs that matter. I play sweep shot well, so I further improved it. Playing the sweep helps me derail the line and length of a bowler. I have also worked to improve my reverse sweep and footwork to tackle spin here,” he said.
“Sweep shot is my strength. Some players improvise it, but I premediate it, as I want it to be perfect by reaching the pitch of the ball and having my head in the right position,” he added.
Though, this might be his first Test away from home soil, Saud comes with plenty of domestic experience that he believes helped him graduate smoothly to Test cricket. He captained Shaheens when they toured Dambulla to play Sri Lanka ‘A’ in two unofficial Tests and three List-A games in 2021. Pakistan batted only twice in the unofficial Test series and Saud made 118 in one of them.
“The experience of playing domestic cricket and for country’s ‘A’ side helps a cricketer a lot. It has helped me a great deal too. I’ve played a lot of domestic cricket in my career. I toured here with Pakistan Shaheens in 2021, though we played in a different city, it gave me an idea of how conditions are here.”
Saud also played for Yorkshire during the County Championship in the off-season which has helped him a great deal.
“It has been a healthy break for me,” he reflected. “There was not much four-day cricket in Pakistan in the last six months so I went to the United Kingdom to play county cricket, which gave me a different experience. This off period also helped me to re-evaluate my game and understand how I can further enhance my skills and fitness, which will help me perform in this series.”
Saud has made 580 runs at a scintillating average of 72.50 during his Test career so far, which includes five half-centuries and a century in 10 innings.
“My first century in international cricket in Karachi is quite dear to me and it is almost my favourite,” he said. “I regret not being able to finish the match in Multan [against England] when I got out on 96 . Had I finished it for my team, it would have been my favourite.”
Itinerary of Pakistan’s tour of Sri Lanka:
16-20 July – First Test at Galle International Cricket Stadium
24-28 July – Second Test at Singhalese Sports Club, Colombo