Fawad Alam scored an unbeaten 114 against Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup 2014 final © AFP
By Bharath Ramaraj
There is always a feeling in the world of cricket that orthodox technique is the base on which a batsman can erect a solid platform to compile fabulous peaks. However, Fawad Alam of Pakistan is one of those many willowy wielders who have turned out to be an exception to the general rule, especially in the ongoing Asia Cup 2014. The unorthodox Alam, with an ungainly stance and a tendency to walk across the crease showcased his mettle with a resplendent century against Sri Lanka in Asia Cup final.
When he strode to the middle to take strike, Pakistan were already floundering the depths of despair. Yet, Alam brick by brick constructed a tenacious century. Initially, he took his time to pace his innings by exploring every nook and cranny of the field, before he took on the gauntlet of essaying a few shots of off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake. He must have felt like a boy on the burning deck, while standing toe-to-toe with the Sri Lankan bowlers early in his innings.
It wasn’t pretty to watch as there were many times when it came off the thick edges of the bat. There were agricultural hoicks and heaves across the line that would have made the purists cringe. He was even dropped by the ever-reliable wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara off Suranga Lakmal’s bowling. But the credit has to go to the diminutive left-handed batsman for keeping his single-minded focus for the rest of the innings.
Ever since Alam compiled a century on his Test debut against Sri Lanka in 2009, he has been looked as a player who has that spirit and spunk to succeed in the middle-order of Pakistan. But questions have been raised over his tendency to walk across the stumps with a farmer-like gait which has resulted in him playing all over a straight ball on numerous occasions. Those questions are still to be answered, but in sub-continental conditions, he has given a fitting riposte to his critics with his fine showing in Asia Cup.
It has to be remembered that Alam also accrued a fine knock against Bangladesh in the league game of the tournament. Yet again it wasn’t great to watch, but what matters in the end is how many runs you make and not how you compile it.
Pakistan’s batting line-up has always been shaky. Hopefully Fawad Alam’s ultra-consistency in the Asia Cup will help them going forward into the all-important ICC World Cup 2015.
(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)