Salman Ali Agha Says He Is Ready To Represent Pakistan
The revamped domestic cricket system has resulted in many changes, most of all to the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. In seasons gone by, batsmen usually struggled to play long innings, while seam bowlers topped the charts with ease annually. However, under the new system, there has been a noticeable change with more focus on quality. Batsmen are now playing longer innings, spinners are in the game, and pacers have to work harder for their wickets.
Among the beneficiaries of the new system are several young batsmen. With pitches more suitable for batting and the Kookaburra ball now a constant, batsmen have the opportunity to capitalize if they work hard. Southern Punjab’s Salman Ali Agha is one of the batsmen who has seen a dramatic turnaround in his fortunes in the First Class format.
The young right-hand batsman played 49 matches before the change to the domestic cricket system, averaging a respectable but modest 31. However, since the new system was introduced, the 27-year-old has seen a massive turnaround in his fortunes. Since 2019, Agha’s batting average has shot up to 61, and he is competing for the position of top run-scorer in the 2020 edition of the tournament.
The batsman from Lahore is acutely aware of his turnaround in performances. “In this season, I have been in the best batting form across all the seasons I have played in,” he told Grassroots Cricket in an exclusive interview. He expressed hopes to continue batting well for the remainder of the season, finishing strongly.
Agha recently hit a 111-ball hundred to help his side chase down 370 in the fourth innings against Sindh – the fifth-highest chase in the history of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. Within 90 runs of the tournament’s top-scorer (Kamran Ghulam), the batsman understands he has a chance to top the charts. “I had worked hard before the season but didn’t think that I will become the top scorer,” he says.
He attributes the change in his fortunes to working hard during the off-season, alongside a heightened focus on consistency. “Previously, I lacked consistency, so I tried to remain consistent this time. Alhamdullilah, I remained consistent, and this is the major thing I worked on.”
Legendary Pakistan batsman Mohammad Yousuf recently praised the Southern Punjab batsman. In response, Agha stated, “Yousuf Bhai is a great legend, and you feel very good after hearing such a legend praising you. He is a big name in Pakistan and the world, and I am also a fan of his batting. So, I felt delighted after hearing him praising me.” From Salman Ali Agha’s point of view, however, this is more than just praise from a legend, since that legend now happens to be a coach at the National High Performance Center as well.
The batsman is well aware of the importance of his performances in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. “This is the second biggest tournament in Pakistan after the PSL, and people also call it the toughest tournament.” When asked about the impact this will have on his chances for national team selection, he said, “My job is to perform, and I have done it in the best tournament of Pakistan.”
With Asad Shafiq being dropped from the Test side for the New Zealand tour and Haris Sohail struggling in his last few appearances, there is some uncertainty about the middle-order positions going forward. Agha is ready to try and help resolve the shortcomings of the side coached by Misbah-ul-Haq, if given a chance, stating, “I am ready for the Pakistani team. The rest depends on the selectors.”