DateLine: 3rd August 2010
If confidence is anything to go by, then Salman Butt and his team mates don't have anything to worry about with the selection of Raza Hasan.
The talented left arm spinner recently turned 18, but already has the mindset of a seasoned veteran. The self confessed Muralitharan fan is looking forward to the challenge of facing Andrew Strauss and company and speaking exclusively to PakPassion.net ; Hasan outlined his hopes and plans for the second test at Edgbaston and beyond.
"I was delighted when I heard that I had received a call up to the squad. At first I couldn't believe it and when relatives told me about the news, I thought they were teasing me at first. Then I spoke to Ijaz Ahmed and he confirmed the news to me. I was lost for words and felt really proud."
Raza is widely regarded as one of the brightest prospects in Pakistani cricket and has already caught the eye of many observers. He was one of the stars of the Pakistan Under 19 World Cup team that performed so well in New Zealand, losing only in the final to Australia. He impressed with his accuracy, guile, variety and understanding of the game at such a tender age.
The fairytale continued for Raza after the Under 19 World Cup, with a call up to the Pakistan "A" squad against the England Lions in the United Arab Emirates. Raza took 9 wickets in three matches against the England team and helped the Pakistan "A" team to a two matches to one victory in the three match series.
Raza's introduction to cricket was hardly a smooth one. He started going to play in the local tape ball matches in Sialkot at the college ground in his early teens, where sometimes up to 3 or 4 matches are played in a day and where it's quite an achievment just to get into one of the teams. Often he would go to the College ground and just watch the action and not get selected, as there were far too many players already present.
Raza is currently in the UK residing with his Under 19 team mate Hammad Azam in Devon and explained how it came about that he is already in the UK.
"Hammad has been playing in the Devon league and I thought I would come over to England just to do some training with the team that he is playing for. I thought rather than staying in Pakistan and just training at the NCA or playing some tape ball cricket, I thought I would come to England to stay in shape and work on my game. I've been working very hard on my fitness in order to be able to bowl long spells and having each other as company has been great for both of us."
Hasan was recently named as a reserve for the Pakistan "A" squad due to take part in the one day tri series in Sri Lanka and he admitted that his mind was already set on going back to Pakistan and preparing for the training camp scheduled for the tri series.
"I was due to return to Pakistan on 6th August, as the training camp is due to start on 10th August. My mind was certainly on going back to Pakistan and starting to prepare for the coming season. In fact I had already started packing. Now I can certainly unpack with a big smile on my face".
Hasan admitted that he hadn't watched any of the action from Trent Bridge in the one sided encounter, but he had watched the England versus Bangladesh series earlier this summer.
"I was impressed by Shakib ul Hasan and how he bowled to the English batsmen. He picked up 8 wickets in the 2 tests and he troubled the England batsmen. I think he bowled very well and has definitely given me some food for thought with regards to how I should be bowling if selected at Edgbaston and the rest of the series."
Raza stated that he believes his strength as a bowler is his ability to tie a batsman down and build pressure.
"I've watched team mates at domestic level like Samiullah Niazi and Asad Ali bowl a nagging line and length and eventually force the batsman into a mistake. I look to mix up attack and defense when I am bowling and believe that it's important for a spinner to bowl a few overs at the start of a spell, find one's rhythm and then start experimenting. There is no point in trying to experiment too much at the start of a spell as your accuracy can suffer. You have to know when to attack and when to look to contain and build pressure."
Sialkot born Hasan admitted to being rather nervous when current skipper Salman Butt phoned him to congratulate him on his call up.
"I said to Salman bhai, that I will need his backing and support and I will do my best for my country and team mates. I'll be travelling to Nottingham on Tuesday to meet up with the squad. It's a huge challenge but one that I feel I am ready for. I just hope that my documentation is processed in time and that I am selected for the match in Birmingham."
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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