Under-19 head coach Ijaz Ahmed has revealed how he helped an initially hesitant Haider Ali to break the shackles and play his natural game in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2020, which eventually helped him get to the national team.
Haider first got noticed while playing for Peshawar Zalmi in PSL 2020 earlier this year and is now considered a star of the future after he scored a half century on T20I debut for Pakistan against England. As he is a product of U-19 cricket, Haider’s rise is accredited to his coach Ijaz, who has now given insight on how he got the 19-year-old to “put on a show” and what his weaknesses are.
“During PSL 5, he would take a single and give the strike back to senior partners,” Ijaz told a group of journalists in Lahore. “When I saw him bat I told him that the entire show is of four, six or eight overs.
"I told him to 'put on your show and play as you want to' and then he was able to make an impression in the tournament. He always had talent but his PSL innings showed that he can play fearless cricket too.
Ijaz then identified a few areas where he thinks Haider needs to work on in order to have a lasting career at top level.
“He is an exceptional talent but I’ve noticed that he has to work on his game against spinners,” the coach said. “In the Emerging Asia Cup and also the World Cup, he got out mostly against spinners. In the next camp, whenever that is, we will work on his batting against spin.
“I do not want to say that his performance in four-day cricket is not good. He has displayed his talent in that format too and his performance in the final was extraordinary. But he must learn how to stay at the crease longer. For that, he needs to learn how to be patient.”
Like Haider, wicketkeeper-batsman Rohail Nazir is another who is waiting in the wings and can break into the national side some day in the future. Ijaz would take credit for both.
“These two were added to the emerging team last year on my insistence,” he said. “They both scored centuries and that boosted their confidence. Now they are the future of Pakistan cricket.”