KARACHI: Test cricket will return to Pakistan after a gap of 10 years when the hosts take on Sri Lanka in Rawalpindi from Wednesday. After an equally long gap, batsman Fawad Alam will be a part of the Pakistan Test squad too.

Piling heaps of runs in almost every first class season during this time, Fawad — who boasts an average of 56.84 in the four-day format — could have easily given up on the sport for not being selected for the national side.

The left-hander, though, ‘cannot ever imagine’ leaving cricket.

“Ten years is a long time. And it becomes difficult for one to stay motivated. However, if you have your family’s support and surround yourself with positive energy, then you find it within yourself to keep on knocking [on the door],” said Fawad addressing a press conference at the National Stadium on Sunday, a day after being named in the Pakistan squad.

“Sometimes you feel [frustrated] that your name is not coming up. But I cannot ever imagine leaving cricket. It is my bread and butter and our families depend on it.”

Fawad last featured for Pakistan in a One-day International against Bangladesh in Dhaka. Since then, the Karachi-born southpaw has been making a case for his selection back into the national side by performing season in and season out in the domestic circuit.

However, in the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Pakistan’s premier first class tournament, Fawad has plundered a massive 781 runs at an average of 71. He also scored a double century in his last first class match and a century in the match before that.

His form nowadays is as good as it was when he last played against Sri Lanka in a Test series. Fawad scored 168 runs in his debut Test in Colombo in 2009.

“Hopefully I can perform the same way I performed on Sri Lanka’s turf when I made my debut in Test cricket,” he said.

“All of my focus is on the upcoming Tests. I will try to deliver my best and use what little I know.”

Fawad’s performances have helped him gather the support of cricket fans and commentators all over the country. However, former Pakistan captain and chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq had criticised in 2018.

Inzamam compared Fawad to English batsman Mark Ramprakash, who scored 114 centuries in first class cricket but failed to emulate that success in the international arena.

The former chief selector, during who’s reign Fawad was continuously ignored for an international recall, had said that he has ‘seen better players than Fawad’.

“He is a legend. I cannot compare. It is not fitting for me to comment on something which he has said,” Fawad said, reserving his reaction to Inzamam’s opinion.

“However, I will always try to deliver my 100 per cent. If I start concerning myself with these things, it will have an impact on my thinking. I prefer to have a positive outlook.”

Fawad said Sri Lanka’s Test tour to Pakistan after 10 years is historic and that it is up to ‘all of us to make the series a success’.

“This will be beneficial for us all as a nation as well as for Pakistani cricket,” he said.

“Test cricket is returning to Pakistan after such a long time. I urge cricket lovers to come see the matches which will be thoroughly enjoyable,” added the 34-year-old.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2019