LAHORE - Opening batsman Abid Ali has said that he is eager to meet Sachin Tendulkar and wants to get batting tips from the batting great.

Abid, who made his debut during the ODI series against Australia last month, scored a superb 112 in the fourth match, recording the highest score by a Pakistani batsman on ODI debut, idealizes Tendulkar and hopes soon he will get batting tips from the Indian legend. “It will be the best day in my life when I meet Tendulkar because he was one of the best batsmen,” said Abid while talking to the journalists here at PCB Headquarters.

“Definitely, I would like to hug him and I am sure that just like all great players meet the youngsters, he will not turn me down. I am sure that if I want to get any information on cricket from Sachin, he will give a very positive reply,” he said.

Abid, a prolific run-scorer in domestic cricket, also revealed that he loves Tendulkar’s batting style and also compared him with Pakistani greats Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf. “Actually, I have followed Sachin’s technique from day one of my career and after watching him, I tried to play like him.

“Tendulkar was a great player, just like our own greats Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf. I adopt their good things and leave any bad thing. If I meet him I will try to talk to him and get some advice, mentally and technically, so that it helps me improve my batting,” he added.

Haris, Babar, Hafeez vow to deliver against England

Haris Sohail, who is among the 15-member World Cup-bound Pakistan squad, has said that his main focus is to deliver during the England series. “The World Cup is still a little while away and my immediate priority is to perform well against England, which is a good side and tough nut to crack at its own backyard. If we win England series, it’ll help in getting used to the conditions.

“We still have about 10 matches to go before the World Cup if you count all the practice matches. So we’re hopeful of getting acclimatised well and producing better results at the World Cup,” he added.

For Haris, that short-term focus makes perfect sense. The left-hander’s career has been blighted by a chronic knee injury for the best part of the last half decade, forcing him to miss several whole seasons over this period. The latest frustrating setback came on the morning of the first Test against South Africa on December 26, forcing him to miss that whole tour and putting his World Cup berth in serious jeopardy.

Haris scored two hundreds against Australia, which helped him secure a place t to England. “Since the Australia series, my confidence and form is in a good place. Over the past few days, I wasn’t feeling too great, but a match situation is different, and the [practice] match we played today, the ball felt great on the bat.

“What happened to me was I was operated on incorrectly, and I struggle because of that. Nobody wants to live through injuries, but as a sportsman, injuries do happen in cricket. Here, the media makes a big deal of injuries. If you look at Australia, every two series, one bowler or another is unfit. I bowl too, so please keep that in mind. I’m trying to complete my rehab properly and put my injury behind me once and for all. But because it was operated upon incorrectly, I do struggle with it sometimes,” Haris added.

“Cricket is a different game nowadays,” Haris said. “Now, when your number three or four plays a big innings or gets a hundred, batsmen play around him. In ODI cricket, a total above 300 is now par. Not in the UAE, where pitches are slower and you need to take more time. But definitely that applies in countries like England. So over there, you’ll see us play more aggressively.

“If you talk about the strike rate, conditions differ depending on where you are. Against Australia in the first ODI, it was very important for me to play 50 overs rather than score quickly. Even so, I scored my century in 114 balls, while [Aaron] Finch got his [in the same game] in 119. The second century I scored, my strike rate was over 100,” added Haris.

Babar Azam feels no such need to be defensive about his natural game. “If I can be number one in the world without power hitting, then I don’t need power hitting! But when I need to, I utilise it well. I don’t just play along the ground. I practice hitting the ball big and when needed, I use it. My role is to play out the full overs. My individual role is to take the innings as deep as I can and perform in a way that benefits the team most of all.”

Shadab Khan’s illness had ruled him out of the series against England, with the leg spinner expected to take four weeks to regain full fitness. All-rounder Muhammad Hafeez termed it ‘sad news’ but said teams couldn’t just rely on individual players. “He is an important player and I am sure he will be back very soon,” he said. “Until he is back, we have to realise that teams don’t run on one player. A lot of players have to fulfill their roles and there are many who are waiting for their turns.”

Hafeez said he preferred a position at or around the top order, saying he ‘was an opener and wanted to play as one’. He specifically rejected the notion that he would be better suited in the lower middle order at number six. That was the position he came in at against India in the Champions Trophy final, where a breezy 37-ball 57 took Pakistan to 338.

“I am not a one-dimensional player. I believe I can play every kind of innings. On many occasions in my career, I have delivered in tough and pressure situations. Since I have played as an opener for 16-17 years since the start of my career, it becomes very difficult to go at number six,” he added.