'I'm ready for the challenge'

Pakistan’s newly inducted wicket-keeper Mohammad Salman is all set to make his international debut, replacing Kamran Akmal who was dropped once again from the team, with the World Cup fumbles proving detrimental for his career.

LAHORE:Pakistan’s latest addition in place of Kamran Akmal is ready to take on the mantle of the team’s wicket-keeping role as they embark on a tour to the West Indies this month. The 29-year-old Mohammad Salman said this was the perfect opportunity to justify his selection and heal Pakistan’s wicket-keeping wounds.

Akmal, who was dropped after a poor World Cup, which saw him drop catches and miss stumping chances in crucial matches, has been replaced by brother Adnan Akmal, Zulqarnain Haider and Sarfraz Ahmed in recent times. His World Cup hit a low during the match against New Zealand, which Pakistan lost by 111 runs, where he dropped a sitter off the bowling of Shoaib Akhtar.

However, Salman was up for the challenge as he steps into Akmal’s shoes.

“I don’t believe on setting up a long-term goal,” said Salman. “My immediate objective is to justify my limited-overs cricket selection.

“I understand the timing of my selection and I’m extremely privileged to be given the important responsibility.”

Wicket-keeper’s dual role in limited-overs cricket

Salman, a graduate in economics, also understands the role of the wicket-keeper in limited-over cricket with Australia’s Adam Gilchrist, Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka and Indian MS Dhoni being more than just flawless behind the stumps. But Salman, yet to make his international debut, is aware of the dual role.

“Cricket has changed, especially with the popularity of the Twenty20 format. A wicket-keeper is not only supposed to be sound behind the stumps but also needs to play a huge role with his batting abilities.”

Improved batting abilities

Salman, who has played 103 first-class matches at an average of 26.63, caught the selectors’ eye in the recent season where he had 30 dismissals in 11 games and hit three hundreds.

“Realising the fact that a wicket-keeper has to perform a dual role, I had to improve my batting ability,” said Salman, who was born in Karachi but moved to Faisalabad at the age of 10.

‘I can handle the pressure at the international level’

Salman also said that at the international level, one had to handle pressure to do well. “I think the only difference between domestic cricket and playing internationally is the pressure.

“If you look around, the players who have been outstanding in their careers are those who can handle the pressure at the big stage.”