CARDIFF: Young batting sensation Fakhar Zaman, who has helped transform Pakistan into a fearsome team in a matter of just a few days, cannot wait to unleash his power hitting in the Champions Trophy finale on Sunday.
The aggressive opener, when asked about who he wanted to face in the final, beat about the bush a bit before finally revealing his preference.
“May the best team win,” he said in an interview to the ICC, before admitting that he wanted to face title defenders India.
Fakhar, who replaced Ahmed Shehzad after Pakistan’s defeat to India and went on to score 31, 50 and 57 in all successive matches, can rightly be called a ‘lucky charm’ for the Green Shirts.
“Yes,” he said. “You can say that because I’ve played three matches and we’ve won all the three. So you can say that, but all the boys are playing well and the credit goes to all of them, especially the bowlers.”
“At this stage, if you can play the shots, you should play them,” said Fakhar, who has a strike rate in excess of 117. “At this level, all teams have quality bowlers and quality attacks. If you go on the back foot, they’ll come very hard. In my mind, I always try to get on top of the bowlers and play some shots.”
Fakhar’s power hitting has also helped his opening partner Azhar Ali.
“We want to attack upfront and Fakhar provides that,” Azhar told the ICC. “I can just carry on the way I bat. A lot of the pressure is taken off by the way he bats, he takes the game on which is good for the team and the game of cricket.
“The good thing about him is he is very confident and very simple. Whenever we meet between overs, his thinking is very simple. He plays his game and I can just contribute what I can. When we get together, we just tell each other to make the most of it to make things easier for the coming batsmen.”
Interestingly, Fakhar’s aggressive style didn’t come naturally to him.
“No it’s not my natural style. I don’t play like this at the start usually. I take time. But I thought in this stage, I thought this is the best game plan and I started playing aggressively,” he said, adding that he has adapted to the team’s needs.
“That’s the main reason why our team was lagging. All people were saying it’s modern-day cricket and all that, so we’re trying to adjust to this way. It’s not really my game, I take time at the start but on these wickets, they are very true and I had to adjust. These wickets are very true compared to our domestic wickets. It became easier for me to play the shots.”
“My mind was very clear today,” he said about his match-winning performance against England. “England have a strong bowling attack, so we were thinking we will not give them any chance to fight back. So we were trying to attack them early.”