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Tabish continues to top charts as selectors look the other way

KARACHI: No cricketer in this country has had to grind through as many hardships as Tabish Khan, a strapping fast bowler who is still waiting for the elusive opportunity to play for Pakistan despite putting up sterling performances.

After making his first-class debut way back in 2002-03, the Karachi-born Tabish, now 32, has picked up a staggering 478 wickets from 107 appearances, while averaging 23.73 with 31 five-for hauls.

In his last outing Tabish recorded match figures of 11-143 for Karachi Whites against SNGPL in the day-night Quaid-i-Azam Trophy Super Eight round match at the National Stadium earlier this month. His tally of 62 wickets in nine matches at 13.54 with seven five-for in the innings were only surpassed by the championship’s highest wicket-taker, KRL’s seamer Mohammad Abbas (71 in 10 games at 12.74 with eight hauls of five-for).

In an interview with Dawn on Monday, Tabish said he had always wanted to bowl fast from the day he started playing cricket.

“I used to bowl very fast from a young age. As time went by, it became my strength and passion. Overall I rated myself as an all-rounder but unfortunately didn’t get enough space to prove it since my main focus was bowling as fast I could,” Tabish said. “But later I realized speed is not the only feature of fast bowling. So I mastered the skills of swinging the ball both ways and bowl according to pitch conditions.”

Tabish revealed he drew inspiration from the modern-day greats of Pakistan cricket and emerged to become someone the batsmen dreaded facing.

“When growing up, I used to idolize the legendary Imran Khan. And then came along the likes of Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Aaqib Javed and Shoaib Akhtar. I was fascinated by the skills all of them possessed,” he recalls. “I got very excited at the sight of seeing them destroying many a batting line-ups while watching the matches on TV. The pleasure of watching batsmen becoming fearful spurred me on to emulate my heroes.

“By following in their footsteps, I enhanced my qualities and started developing the skills of quality fast bowling. I was taught by my coaches that one can only become better than the rest by putting in those extra efforts to improve skills you already have.”

The soft-spoken Tabish stressed that age is no barrier to bowl quick as long as the desire to remain in physical shape existed.

“I think this is a key factor that the powers-that-be generally tend to overlook whenever they start taking interest in the individuals. Why should the age come in the way? If someone has God-gifted virtues of being an exceptional fast bowler, the selectors should think on those lines. After all, experience counts a lot.”

After a sporadic handful of appearances for Pakistan ‘A’ side despite claiming 77 wickets in 14 matches of the 2009-10 first-class season, Tabish believes his dream of playing at the top level will come true, given his consistent wicket-taking form in domestic cricket.

“Now that would definitely the icing on the cake. I’ve not lost hope of wearing the green Pakistan cap and certainly won’t give up easily if the opportunities come soon enough,” he vowed. “Obviously, the current season was good in a sense that now I have got plenty of experience to bowl on different pitch conditions. Back in 2009-10, I got wickets with my pace, but now I can operate in all conditions accordingly.

“The performances are in front of the selectors to judge whether I deserve a chance [to play for Pakistan] since I had taken 61 wickets in 2011-12 and was declared best bowler several times. Importantly, compared to past several seasons I have immensely enjoyed bowling this season.

“My family has been the biggest influence in cricketing career. All of them wanted me to play for Pakistan and become a star. They keep on backing me up and motivated me to stick with what I am doing. Insha’Allah, I shall reach the top because my philosophy is that never give up on your passion and dreams, one day or the other it will be achieved.

“Every day is a new day. I keep on working hard and stay focused. I admire renowned sportsmen of other fields. My favourites are Ronaldo, Ronaldinho in football, Michael Schumacher in motor racing and Pete Sampras and Roger Federer in tennis. Their achievements have also served as source of inspiration for me,” Tabish concluded.

courtesy : dawn news

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