Ungainly but effective, Fawad Alam’s Shivnarine Chanderpaul-like stance is helping him in his search for redemption. Credit goes to Alam’s National Bank team coach Dr Jamil who advised the change. And his success at the Asia Cup suggests, it has reaped rich dividends.
On Saturday, the left-hander scored his maiden ODI hundred. It was an innings of caution but Alam reached the landmark in style, chipping Thisara Perera over deep mid-wicket for a maximum.
For close to four years the 28-year old southpaw had to spend his time on the sidelines, but now, given the opportunity again, he looks to be determined to make up for the lost period. Alam was rated highly in Karachi as a young batting talent but found international cricket a little too tough to handle after making his ODI debut seven years ago.
The first 10 innings yielded just one half-century and that too against lowly Hong Kong. Things didn’t improve in the next phase either. Except for a fighting 63 against Australia at Perth in 2010, the middle-order batsman had very little to show for and was duly dropped from the national team.
But Alam put his head down and earned his recall with a string of good scores in the domestic circuit.
Still, Alam was picked against Bangladesh in the Asia Cup only because Sharjeel Khan was recovering from a leg injury. But he grabbed the opportunity with both hands and became an automatic choice for the final.
The comeback has turned out to be sweet. He anchored Pakistan to victory with a 70-ball 74 in the last game against Bangladesh. It was his first match for Pakistan in exactly 39 months. But his task in the final was more daunting. At 18 for three, his team was staring down the barrel. The primary target was to see off Lasith Malinga and then forge a partnership with captain Misbah-ul-Haq.
The first ball he faced was a Malinga yorker but Alam dug it out well towards mid-wicket. He was ready to play a waiting game and took 12 balls to score his first runs. He, however, targeted Sachithra Senanayake well and pounced on anything loose from the Sri Lanka off spinner.
A 122-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Misbah gave Pakistan some breathing space. After Umar Akmal came on and became the aggressor, Alam wisely resorted to play second fiddle.