In a bid to unearth the domestic performers in Pakistan cricket, The Correspondent will be highlighting players that can serve Pakistan in the future. This week we take a look at Sindh’s middle order batsman Saud Shakeel.

25-year-old Saud Shakeel from Karachi has been rated very highly in Pakistan’s cricketing circles ever since he started playing for the Under-16s, but this season he has well and truly announced himself. He finished the recently concluded season of the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy as second highest run-scorer. He was also the mainstay of Sindh‘s middle order and scored 972 runs at an average of 58.53, with a highest of 174.

The left-hander has been rewarded for his hard work at the domestic level with a name in the national side for the home series against South Africa, which starts next week. Here is a look at his numbers from this season.

Saud Shakeel banks on orthodox cricket and plays proper cricketing shots, with offside as his preferred region. But he is equally good on the leg side. He can stay at the wicket for long hours, which speaks volumes about his mental and physical toughness. Even in this season, there have been instances where he had to carry out the role of a lone warrior. Against Northern, in the third round, he scored 174 runs in a team total of 294 in the second innings.

Sindh finished the season at the bottom of the table with one win, four losses, and five draws. Even with a lack of support from the other batsmen, he single-handedly was instrumental in digging out draws for his team.

In the initial part of his career, he used to idealise Australia’s opening batsman Mathew Hayden. Later on, when Saud started batting at number 3, he tried to follow Kumar Sangakkara’s batting template. He has made his game accustomed to that, as he can bat for hours on without showing any signs of fatigue.

Apart from these two, he has great respect for Pakistan’s former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed and middle-order batsman Asad Shafiq. He thinks that both his domestic teammates have been instrumental in his development as a player. Furthermore, he credits Mahmood Rashid, his former coach in the academy, for helping him harness his skills.

“I have grown up idolising Kumar Sangakkara and he is my favourite player. I have learnt a lot from Sindh captain Sarfaraz Ahmed and Asad Shafiq. They have been great mentors for me this season,” he said.

Early career

Saud Shakeel was part of the Under-19 team in 2014 that made it to the final of the World Cup. He made useful scores in the middle order in the group stage. His most notable contribution in the tournament was a 45 ball 61 against England in the semi-final. While chasing 206 runs to book a place in the final, Pakistan was tottering at 57 for 4—but Saud Shakeel, along with Ameer Hamza, soaked up the pressure and resurrected the innings with a brilliant 74-runs stand.

A year and a half after representing Pakistan U-19’s, Shakeel made his first-class debut for Karachi Whites against WAPDA.  He batted at number 7 in the first innings and scored 32 off 122. With the ball, he picked one wicket for 30 runs in 10 overs.

Saud has captained Pakistan at the Under-19 level. In the ongoing Pakistan Cup, Saud Shakeel was named the captain of Sindh. Before that, he had captained Pakistan Under-19’s in 2015. In 2019, he was given the responsibility of captain Pakistan in the ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup.

On his appointment, he said, “It is certainly an honour for me to be leading Pakistan and I look forward to the tournament. Our side comprises quality players and strikes the right balance in every department. We have all the ingredients to win the tournament. We aim to play aggressive cricket.”

All of the coaches he has played under say that he has a good cricketing mind, and the temperament to lead Pakistan in the future as well.

In the future, Saud Shakeel wants to take his game to the next level by becoming an all-format dependable player for Pakistan, and he certainly has the potential for it.

“I look to build on my performances in domestic cricket and represent Pakistan in all three formats.”

The author is a member of staff and heads the sports and business desks at The Correspondent. He mainly lives in the shadows as a ghost writer so you may have read his work and not even known it. He can be reached at asadqasim@thecorrespondent.pk

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