ISLAMABAD - Highly-talented all-rounder Ali Imran has vowed to excel in the 5-nation academies series, commencing today (Thursday) in Ajman, UAE.

Talking to The Nation from UAE, Ali said, he, along with other 20-member team along with officials, landed Dubai International Airport safely and after taking some hours rest, they along with Imran Nazir reached the venue in Ajman and had a wonderful two-hour long practice session here. “Although the boys of our academy team are selected from different cities, yet we have played five practice matches in Lahore prior to our departure to UAE.”

Imran Nazir and Rana Naved were full of praise of Ali’s batting and also liked his bowling. Ali remained unbeaten in two matches and scored 50 in each innings he played. He said: “This wonderful experience gave me a lot of confidence and both Imran Nazir and Rana Naved are highly cooperative and they kept on praising and bucking up each and every individual.

“Although it is very first tour of my career, yet I am quite confident I will be able to produce more than desired results with both willow and leather and prove my critics wrong. It is my job to score runs and take wickets and leave the rest on the selectors. I have always strong belief in Almighty and I am quite sure, I will soon get justice. I will do my level best to help Imran Nazir Academy lift the 5-nation academy title,” Ali added.

Ali, who had scored more than 400 runs in the district cricket and taken nine wickets in only four matches, was never considered even for U-19 district cricket championship by his parent Islamabad Region, reasons best known to Islamabad Region Cricket Association (IRCA) president Shakil Shaikh, as having all the valid documents and birth certificate, Ali was termed overage, while his documents prove that he is only 18 years old.

Other players, who had not even scored handful runs, and were of different cities too, were given preference in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, but the players like Ali Imran, who had proved their mettle time and again, were overlooked. But the youngster didn’t lose heart and instead continue striving hard and preferred to travel 100 kilometers daily to reach Sheikhupura to attend a club, where he plays matches against Test cricketer Rana Naved Academy.

There too, he was spotted first by Rana Naved, who termed him future of Pakistan cricket and then by Test cricketer M Wasim, who immediately took Ali Imran to his Muhamamd Wasim International Cricket Academy, where only in two months time, Ali got an opportunity to represent Imran Nazir Cricket Academy in UAE 5-nation series purely on merit. Besides Imran Nazir Academy Pakistan, academy teams of Bahrain, Sri Lanka, India and hosts UAE will be in action in the first-ever T20 International event. Ali’s academy will take on arch-rivals India academy team in the first match today (Thursday).

Sharing his views, Test cricketer M Wasim said: “I have seen a lot of passion and determination on this young lads face. Ali always gave more than 100 percent in academy during training sessions and always reached the ground well before time, which shows, how much he is mentally and physically involved in cricket, and this touch is missing in the generation next.  “Ali was my automatic choice for the UAE tour, as he is not only young but also a mature cricketer, which is required at international stage. This tour will give Ali a lot of confidence and pave his way into the national squad. I can see a future star rising on the horizon,” Wasim concluded.