KARACHI: Pakistan cricket team’s middle order batter Asif Ali has revealed that he was mentally prepared that the T20 World Cup 2021 in Dubai could be the last tournament of his international career and that he gave it his all.
Talking to Geo News, the 30-year-old Islamabad United star said that he worked harder for the T20 World Cup than he did at the time of his international debut.
Before the T20 World Cup, Asif was criticised for his inconsistency in performance, but his match-winning efforts against New Zealand and Afghanistan turned the tables in his favour, and many of his opponents became his cheerleaders.
“The position that I play has a lot of ups and downs. I have a specific role as a middle order batsman and a power batter, and in T20Is, I rarely receive more than two or three balls.
People don’t see when I bat or how many deliveries I get, therefore they claim Asif didn’t score any runs in the series,” he lamented.
“I don’t take criticism personally, but it hurts when people who don’t know a thing about cricket make comments about me,” Asif remarked.
He went on to say that he enjoys professional cricketers’ criticism because he learns from it.
The flamboyant right-handed batter stated that the T20 World Cup was really important to him, and that he had made up his mind that it might be his last tournament.
In the World Cup, Asif played unbeaten innings of 27 and 25 against New Zealand and Afghanistan, respectively, to help Pakistan win both matches, and these two innings altered his life.
He was overjoyed to see how fans cheered for him after the win against Afghanistan. He said that his hard work had paid off.
He, however, added that everyone wanted to win the world cup, but unfortunately, the team couldn’t do well in the semi-finals.
Asif said that he and Shoaib Malik had decided to play until the last over in the match against New Zealand.
“We were on the watch for poor deliveries, Shoaib Malik was a huge help there. We both decided to play until the very last over. We played according to our strategy and were successful “he stated.
Asif Ali, speaking about the time he was hit in the head by a bouncer from Tim Southee, stated he had decided that no matter what occurred, he would not leave the field.
“When I was hit, Shoaib Malik came over and said, ‘Don’t get off the field,’ to which I replied, ‘I’m not going anywhere.'” He said that he did not instantly feel the impact of the hit, but that when he ran, he felt dizzy, “I made sure that we finished the match,” he stated.
He applauded PCB’s move to appoint a power hitting coach for the Pakistan squad, but asked that players be trained for this role at home before joining the national team.
“A lot of work is being done to improve power hitting, but we don’t have many middle-of-the-order power hitters. It’s critical for us to train some players at the domestic level so that when they’re brought to the national team, they’re ready to perform,” he said.
Speaking about PSL, he said he’s looking forward to the event and praying that everything goes smoothly during the fifth wave of COVID-19 in the country.
More than any personal honour, he added, he’s focused on helping his team, Islamabad United, win the tournament, and that’s his goal for the tournament.
“We are a well-balanced team. United’s management is always spot-on with their emerging picks, in my opinion. They know which players are performing well at home and select them to provide them a greater stage and a chance to impress selectors for the Pakistan team,” he stated.
Asif also described living in the bio-secure bubble, stating that it is more tough than one might think, particularly for players who are struggling with form, as they will have nowhere else to go but stay alone in the rooms.
When spectators come to the stadium for PSL matches, he advised they observe COVID-19 protocols.
“It’s critical for everyone’s health, including their own, as well as the PSL, that it goes smoothly,” he concluded.