ISLAMABAD-Leg spinner Shadab Khan has said that Rawalpindi Region head coach Sabih Azhar is one of the best coaches in the country and he is a main person behind his success.

Talking to The Nation, Shadab said: “Trust me, when I started playing cricket for Siddique-e-Akbar Club in Rawalpindi, my club president Sajjad supported me wholeheartedly. He was driving force behind me as he not only motivated me but also recognized my talent and potential. I worked really hard and succeeded in reaching at such a level.

“I played U-13, U-16 and U-19 cricket for Rawalpindi Region and believe me, it was Sabih Azhar, who always had a huge trust and confidence in my abilities. When I played U-19 World Cup for Pakistan, I performed really well, which further strengthened the belief of Sabih on me,” he added.

Shadab said: “I had hardly played one ODI for Pakistan, when we were playing in National One Day Cup at Pindi Stadium and I was representing Rawalpindi Region in 2017. All the players were sitting in the dressing room and Sabih Azhar, who was our coach, all of a sudden announced that Shadab is the key player for not only Rawalpindi but for Pakistan team as well and he will play 100 Test and at least 400 ODIs for Pakistan.

“It stunned all present on the occasion and the players were laughing at me. They never believed what Sabih had said while I was also not sure what the coach had predicated? I never took it seriously but kept on working hard and only in a year or so, I played for Pakistan not only in ODIs and T20 but also got the Test cap at a very young age.

“It was Sabih Azhar’s belief and trust which was driving force behind me. He always stands rock solid behind all the cricketers of his region and when our performances are not up to the mark, he always motivates us and tells us to keep working hard, your time will come,” he added.

About Sabih Azhar’s services for Pakistan cricket and especially for Rawalpindi Region, Shadab said: “I think Sabih bahi has done a tremendous job with the youth of Rawalpindi. He has provided ample chances to the youngsters and Rawalpindi Region is blessed with immense amount of talent and we are quite lucky that we get chances to play first for our region and then for the country.

“If we look at the contributions, Sabih has made for Rawalpindi and Pakistan, we can easily understand his matchless passion and devotion for Pakistan cricket. He spends hours and hours in nets and tries to help all of us. Umer Amin, Awais Zia, Sohail Tanvir, Yasir Arafat, Hammad Azam and many more are the real production of coach Sabih Azhar,” he added.

The leg spinner said that it is a bitter reality that there is a shortage of playing grounds in Rawalpindi Region, which badly needs more quality cricket grounds, as without them, we can’t find and groom fresh talent. If we have to play and train after 2pm daily, we have to wait for weeks to get matches, then it is not a coach’s fault.

“I request government to construct more cricket grounds, as it will help the region and country in hinting fresh talent, which can prove an asset for the country. Sabih is an international-standard coach and he deserves to be with the national team. I hope time is not far, when Sabih will get a major assignment with national team,” Shadab concluded.