Match Tied (Royal Challengers Bangalore win one-over eliminator)
Right arm speedster Amad Butt and opening batsman Ahsan Ali have earned Pakistan T20 call-ups for the three-match T20I series against Bangladesh, starting from January 24.
While Amad has been previously named in the national team's squad in 2016 for a one-off T20I against England, Ahsan has broke into Pakistan's white-ball team for the first time on the back of impressive performances at the domestic level and in Pakistan Super League (PSL).
Talking to the media ahead of the much-anticipated limited-overs meeting, Amad recounted how it has always been his ambition to represent Pakistan at the highest level and shed light on how he has worked hard on improving his skill set over the years.
"Being a professional, every player aims to represent Pakistan. I was part of the team before too. In a way, I am glad that I didn't play in in all these years because I [used that time] to improve my skill set and I am optimistic to perform well this time around," said Amad.
Growing up, Amad looked up to Andrew Flintoff and Jacques Kallis and wants to make his name as an outstanding all-rounder in the years to come.
"My favourite cricketers that I look up to are Andrew Flintoff and Jacques Kallis."
Amad, just like the entire cricket fraternity, is delighted to see international cricket returning to Pakistan shores and is even more excited due to the fact that he is going to strut his stuff in front of zealous crowds.
"We are very excited that international teams have started to come to Pakistan again. It's an honour to represent the country and it's a great feeling to play in front of home crowds."
The 24-year-old does not want to be categorized as bowling or a batting all-rounder and wants to be considered just as an all-rounder as he is of the view that both aspects of the game are equally important to him.
"I have been considered in the side as an all-rounder and the entire team management is backing me in this role. I would like to be considered as an all-rounder and not classified further as bowling or a batting all-rounder."
Ahsan reckons he will not be feeling any extra heat during the series against Bangladesh as he has experienced a somewhat similar challenge in the middle of high-voltage games in the PSL and is confident to manage international cricket pressure.
"It's a dream of every cricketer to represent Pakistan. I have played in PSL so I don't have any pressure as I have been used to handle such kind of pressure," said Ahsan.
Ahsan had many sleepless nights before the team for Bangladesh series was announced. He was absolutely ecstatic when he heard the news of his selection in the men's senior team.
"I couldn't sleep the night before the team's announcement and even in the practice session, I couldn't stop thinking about my chances.
"The time was passing slowly but when the team was announced, I was so excited and I can't describe in words how elated I was upon hearing that I got picked."
Ahsan likes the way how Rohit Sharma dominates the proceedings. The flamboyant opener from India has tumbled many records and is truly one of the greatest batsmen of this era. Ahsan reflected how he plans his batting and is not an impulsive player who just goes berserk from the word go.
"My favourite opener is Rohit Sharma. I have got a gameplan all worked out and I want to show the world my hitting-power and how well I can play as an opener. I look forward to serving Pakistan for as long as possible and play a role in many wins," said Ahsan.
Ahsan Ali batting in a practice session ahead of Bangladesh T20I series ©PCB
The right-handed batsman considers playing for Pakistan an honour and to get a chance to open the batting alongside the number one ranked batsman Babar Azam—he plans to pick his brains on batting in the upcoming series.
"Indeed, Babar Azam is world number one batsman. It will be a matter of pride to open the batting with him and a good learning experience to bat alongside him."
Ahsan sounds like a player who thinks a lot about his game and plans a lot ahead of a match. He wants to read the conditions first and then adjust his batting accordingly.
"I will play according to the pitch conditions and will apply my technique after [assesing the surface] and also pick my shots wisely. I would play according to the plans and not just go all-attack."
The 26-year-old wants to make most of the opportunity and hopes for staying in the side for as long as possible. Moreover, the hard-hitting batter has set his eyes on the T20 World Cup in Australia which is scheduled in October this year.
"I want to play in such fashion that I don't get out of the team anytime soon and I want to start my career in the best possible manner. I am eying the T20 World Cup this year and wish to represent Pakistan there."
Ahsan just like Amad considers himself fortunate to make his debut in front of fervent home crowds and he urges other international teams to visit Pakistan.
"It will be an honour to play in front of home crowds and it's my good fortune to start my career in Pakistan. I will say to all the other teams that Pakistan is a very safe country to play cricket."
On a lighter note, while answering a reporter's question regarding his chances to bowl, he replied with a chuckle as he doesn't see a real opportunity to contribute with the ball but he reminded him that he has taken a wicket at the domestic level.
"I have taken a wicket at domestic level [chuckles]. It depends on Misbah-ul-Haq bhai because there are too many bowlers [in the squad] and so it looks unlikely that I will get an opportunity to bowl."
The Karachi-born batsman is not under the impression that the forthcoming series is going to be a walk in the park affair by any means.
He knows how Bangladesh have improved leaps and bounds over recent years and have become a tough side to overpower. Ahsan expects the three-match fiesta to be a fiercely competitive series and would be entertaining for the crowds.
"Bangladesh have improved massively over the years and some of their senior batsmen are top-class. They have got amazing batsman, great bowlers and their fielding is also good so it is going to be a tough series and a great spectacle for the crowds. I urge people to come in large numbers and support us," beamed Ahsan.