PCB Logo

'Sri Lanka at their home would be a challenge but that's what Test cricket is all about'

Galle, 16 July 2022: For the past twenty years, Salman Ali Agha had a dream. Like every child in Pakistan who holds a bat or a ball, he desired to don the golden star on his chest. That materialised today when he was handed the green cap by Mohammad Yousuf ahead of the first Test between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Salman had remained on the periphery of the national side in the last two years. He had toured with the team, but never made the cut. However, when that moment arrived, Salman, no matter how much he had anticipated it, was at the loss of words.

This is a special feeling and I cannot put it in words,” he told PCB Digital following the announcement of the Pakistan XI for the first Test.

“I mean, you are being picked to play Test cricket – which is the pinnacle of the game and which is a format every big player in the world wants to play – from the population of 25 crore. This is a feeling that cannot be described, but if I have to, I would say I am very excited and happy.

“The only goal I had when I started playing cricket was to play for Pakistan. Now that eight-year-old kid will be playing for Pakistan. Since, I have gotten to know about my debut, I have been recalling the last 10-15 of my life. I am remembering how I first went to my cricket club – Apollo Cricket Club – and started playing cricket. I am remembering my coach Malik Sarwar. I am going through my whole journey in my head.”

Salman has been in Pakistan’s first-class set-up since February 2013. He has played 68 matches and in the last three seasons, he has turned heads with his outstanding performances in the revamped Quaid-e-Azam Trophy first-class tournament.

Salman was slated in Southern Punjab and since the 2019-20 season, he has been a regular feature in the side. He has played 18 matches for them and scored 1,629 runs at a strong average of 56.19. The 28-year-old has smashed five centuries and eight half-centuries. His off-spin snared 25 wickets.

While Pakistan won their last Test series here 2-1 in 2015, Sri Lanka promise to pose a tough challenge to the visitors following their series levelling comeback win at the very same venue where the two teams meet against Australia earlier in the week.

Salman is up for that challenge. He has been to Sri Lanka before – with Pakistan Shaheens in November last year – and he feels that that experience will prove to be beneficial for him.

“I do have experience of playing in Sri Lanka as I came here in November with Pakistan Shaheens and scored a century,” he said. “We have been training here for the last 10 days and have also played a warm-up match. But, having said that, the conditions in Sri Lanka challenge you and Sri Lanka, at their home, are a tough side. It would be challenging, but Test cricket is all about challenge. I am ready to overcome it and give the best for Pakistan.”

This series is part of the ICC World Test Championship cycle. The second and last Test will be played at Colombo’s R. Premadasa Stadium from 24-28 July. Sri Lanka are ranked third in the ICC World Test Championship, while Pakistan are on fourth.