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LAHORE: Middle order batsman and bowler Saud Shakeel (25) who scored a gutsy half-century against England at Lord's in his second one-day international, grabbed some attention of cricket legends in an otherwise so far disappointing England tour.

Saud is a product of domestic cricket and has performed exceedingly well in various stages of age-group cricket, before making his debut for the national team. The left-hander featured for Karachi U16 in the Pepsi PCB Cricket Stars U16 Tournament 2011-12 and scored 122 runs from five matches at 61. He then got a taste of top quality cricket when he featured for Pakistan in the ICC U19 World Cup in 2014, where he scored 127 runs at 25.40.

Saud captained Pakistan to victory in the ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup in Bangladesh in 2019, contributing 86 runs in four matches. He had earlier made a trip to England in 2016, where alongside Babar Azam and Hasan Ali, he had featured in four List A matches and one four-day match. In the only four-day match against Sri Lanka 'A' in Worcester, he had scored two half-centuries with 86 his highest score.

A modest Saud, reflecting on his journey from age-group cricket to Lord's, said: "I feel really proud and privileged to get a chance to play for my country after going through the age-group."

Sharing his emotions of playing at Lord's, Saud said, "It feels a great honour to play at Lord's. It was a different feeling all together. I had made up my mind to perform here, which could help my side."

Reflecting on his 56-run knock, Saud said, "When I went to the crease, the situation was not good for our side. Misbah Bhai had told me to stay on the wicket for a long time. The same thing was told by Fakhar Zaman when I joined him in the middle."

Along with his batting, Saud also showed his bowling skills when, with his left-arm spin, he provided Pakistan the much-needed breakthrough by ending the dangerous looking third wicket partnership by dismissing Phil Salt (60).

Narrating how he got the wicket of Salt, Saud said: "The captain and vice-captain had given me the ball to stop the free flow of runs. I started to get spin from the pitch after that I maintained my line and length, and was rewarded with Salt's wicket. I was really excited to get my first scalp in the international cricket as it is always a memorable one."

Pakistan have already lost the series but 10 Super League points will be up for grabs when the two sides go head to head at Edgbaston Tuesday. The 25-year-old remains confident of the team's turnaround in the third ODI.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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