T20 World Cup 2021: Asif Ali thanks Pakistan, Misbah, and Islamabad United after match-winning knock v AFG

Asif Ali won the game for Pakistan | Getty Images

Pakistan batter Asif Ali has thanked the national team management and legendary cricketer Misbah-ul-Haq for the support and showing faith in him after he won the crunch game for the Men in Green against Afghanistan at the ongoing ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021.

With Pakistan requiring 24 off 12 balls to win the game in Dubai, Asif smashed four sixes off Karim Janat to take the side over the line inside 19 overs with five wickets in hand.

Before his match-winning innings against Afghanistan, Ali also played a key role in Pakistan’s win over New Zealand, hitting an unbeaten 27 off 12 balls in the ongoing ICC T20 World Cup 2021.

Notably, Asif has been in and out from the Pakistan team as he couldn’t replicate his Pakistan Super League (PSL) form with Islamabad United at the highest level, which often led to criticism over his national selection. Though, the cricketer said he doesn’t pay attention to criticism.

Asif said at the post-match press conference: “I don’t notice criticism. I don’t follow social media at all; I’m very far away from it. My role was such that I sometimes came into the team and sometimes was dropped. Pakistan needed me and called for me. I’ve played leagues around the world and was playing domestic cricket too, so I was in touch with my game. I’m only in the team because I was performing, after all.”

He continued, “The last series I played [in South Africa and Zimbabwe], I played in the middle order at No. 6. It’s tricky in that position. The stats guys only see that I scored 10 runs in three innings, but they don’t see if you played only three or four balls of the final over. They only pull out the stat, rather than understanding the intricacies of middle-order batting.”

On his show vs Afghanistan, the right-hander said: “[Tonight] the boundary on the on-side was smaller from the end in that 19th over. But they bowled wide on the off side and that’s where I ended up hitting sixes at the bigger boundary. That wasn’t exactly the plan, but I just hit the balls I got. I kept telling Shoaib Malik we’d target this end, but unfortunately, he ended up getting out. Thankfully, we ended up winning the match.”

The 30-year-old also opened up on how the Pakistan management helped him better his game and deal with the situation in the finishing overs while thanking Misbah for the support.

Ali said, “Earlier, I just used to go to the nets and face the bowlers. I spoke to the coaches and asked them to set me up for practice as if I were batting in the final five or six overs. The management has helped me out a lot, and I’m very happy now and you can see the results.”

He concluded, “I want to thank Misbah[-ul-Haq] – who I started my career alongside in Faisalabad and later at SNGPL. Then I played under him when he became coach of Pakistan. He worked very hard with me and I’ll always be grateful to him. All my coaches have worked with me and I’m thankful to them.”