PAK vs SA: Nauman Ali opens up on his long journey to Pakistan team

PAK vs SA: For left-arm spinner Nauman Ali, it was a dream come true when he made his Test debut for Pakistan on Tuesday against South Africa at the National Stadium.Coming from a small town ‘Khipro’, a subdivision of the Sanghar division in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province, Nauman is among a handful of players from the rural areas of the province to get a chance to play for the national team.

“I was hopeful of getting a call-up after bowling well and taking wickets in the last two seasons of first-class cricket,” the 34-year-old Nauman, who became the fourth oldest Test cricketer to debut for pakistan, said in a virtual conference.

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Nauman finished with two wickets in the South African first innings total of 220 but impressed everyone with his disciplined line and length.

“It has been a long journey. I was born and studied in Khipro but moved to Hyderabad to pursue a career as a professional cricketer with my uncle,” he said.

Khipro is around 285 kilometers from Karachi and Nauman said it had not been easy for him to move to a big city as he belonged to a modest background.

“My father works in the clerical staff of an oil factory in Hyderabad now,” he said.

Pakistan has been very confident in playing left-arm spinners and after 2016 they had picked all-rounder Zafar Gohar to play against New Zealand in the second Test at Christchurch last month.

However, he didn’t have a very memorable match which led to him being dropped for the home series against South Africa.

Nauman was among nine uncapped players who got the selectors nod when the Pakistan squad was revamped for the home series.

Nauman said he is confident of having a long career for Pakistan as he is ready for the challenge of bowling in any cricket playing nation.

“If they show confidence I am ready to deliver anywhere not only in home series,” he said.

Dean Elgar, the experienced South African opener who top-scored with 58 in his team’s dismal innings, felt that his team was ahead of Pakistan after the first day.

Pakistan was struggling on 33 for four at the close in reply to the visitors 220.

“It was an up and down day but I would say that we are ahead. I would not have said that after the way we batted but then we fought back I knew we were ahead,” Elgar said.

“Knowing that this pitch will get tougher and knowing that we have good spinners I am confident that we can further get ahead in this test.”

He said South Africa didn’t bat to its potential despite having some good preparations.

“I would still say we had a better day as I think this surface will get more difficult for batting as the match progresses,” he added.