After a match-winning performance against Hong Kong, Pakistan fast bowler Usman Shinwari has set his sights higher for the game against India.
Shinwari has had a brilliant start to his one-day international career. In just seven matches he has picked up 18 wickets at an astounding average of 10.55.
On Sunday, 16 September, he proved too hot too handle for Hong Kong. He first dismissed Aizaz Khan to break a gritty 53-run partnership for the fifth wicket. Then, in the same over, he exploited the reverse-swing on offer to remove Scott McKechnie and Tanwir Afzal for ducks. His spell helped Pakistan bowl out Hong Kong for 116 – a score they were able to chase down with eight wickets in the bag.
Shinwari comes from a country with rich fast-bowling tradition, and to consistently make the Pakistan playing XI you have to be exceptionally good. He enjoys the competition within the quick bowlers, and uses it as motivation to do better.
"If you look at our bowling attack – the ones playing or the ones on the bench – they're all top bowlers, so there's a lot of competition. It is fun because you have to perform in every game, so I'm putting in the hard work," he said after returning 3/19 against Hong Kong.
Shinwari bowled well in his first spell with the new ball but was unable to pick up wickets. His luck changed in his second spell with the reverse-swinging old ball.
"Today's wicket was slowish, but I was trying to bowl fast. With the new ball, I was going for wickets, but I didn't get any. When I came on for my second spell, the ball was scuffed up, so I got reverse swing," he explained.
Pakistan's next game is against India, and Shinwari knows the stakes are very high.
"India is the No.1 team, they have excellent players. Definitely when Pakistan and India have a match, not just the players but also the crowd gets excited. It's a big game and hopefully, we've prepared well enough," he said.
"Players that do well in India-Pakistan games command a lot of respect. I want to perform well in the game. I got three wickets today, hopefully against India I can get five."
Pakistan cruise to victory in their #AsiaCup2018 opener! Imam-ul-Haq top scores with 50* as they knock off their target of 117 in 23.4 overs to beat Hong Kong by 8 wickets!#PAKvHK scorecard ➡️ https://t.co/m411ePp9Q8 pic.twitter.com/FmHfD3RI6O— ICC (@ICC) September 16, 2018
Pakistan will also have the 'home' advantage to give them a bit of an edge, hoped Shinwari: "Pakistan are used to the pitches in Dubai, so this is an advantage for us and we know a little bit about the pitch and ground."
Shinwari's new-ball partner Mohammad Amir has hit a bit of lean patch, his last four ODIs yielding him just a single wicket.
"Wickets can depend on luck. On some days, you bowl ordinarily and get a lot of wickets, on other days you'll bowl extremely well and not get a single wicket," argued Shinwari. "Amir has been bowling well in most matches, hopefully, he'll be able to get some wickets next match onwards."
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