www.mag4you.net'The Man of the Series was a big thing for me'
Rana Naved-ul-Hasan, Pakistan's latest bowling trump card, is a simple soul. Frustrated waiting for an international call, he almost gave up. But self-belief hauled him back. With 15 wickets in the ODIs he took the Man-of-the-Series honors during the recent India tour. In an exclusive with Cricinfo, Naved spoke about the various stages of his life that provided him confidence and more.
Can we say this series has been a turning point in your short career?
Yes, definitely. Not only did we perform so well, but on the personal front, too, ending up as the Man of the Series was a big thing for me. It added to my confidence and proved that what I was doing was correct.
You consistently troubled the Indian top-order and got wickets on pitches that offered hardly any returns during the ODI series. How did you do that successfully where other fast bowlers failed?
I just stuck to my plan and worked accordingly. I had studied the videos of the Indian batsmen and, with the help of the captain and coach, devised a plan for each of the batsman. And bowling a proper line and length contributed to the success.
You have got [Virender] Sehwag six times in ODIs and have troubled him especially with the slower ball?
Sehwag, being a stroke-player, would obviously go for his shots always. And there is always a chance that he may play too early at times against the slower one. I was just fortunate that he hasn't been able to read it so easily.
Was he the most-prized scalp of the Indians?
Considering that he has been the man in form, and a matchwinner, it was a precious wicket.
You went for 24 runs in your first over in the first ODI in Karachi during the 2004 Indian series at home, but bounced back well with three big wickets. Pakistan lost a close encounter and you didn't figure in the rest of the series. What went through your mind then?
A lot happened during that Karachi game. To start with I bowled five no-balls, which was unacceptable. But I kept calm and returned to take three crucial wickets. However, the selectors opted for the established quicks. Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Sami, Shabbir Ahmed, Umar Gul had been playing in the team for some time so it was difficult to get into the team. I just told myself I had to stay patient and keep working hard.
Four years ago when you were not picked in the Pakistan squad for the 2000-01 series against New Zealand, you almost gave up and played minor leagues in England. How did you generate the self-belief to come back?
Around that time Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis were still the leading bowlers with Akhtar and Sami acting as the support cast. So at first I was hurt but then decided to work hard if I had to prove myself. A very good domestic season in 2003-04 helped me get into the national side. Even though I didn't get enough chances, I knew once again that I had to wait. A good performance during the VB Series helped me.
You bowled well in Australia during the VB Series and accounted for 14 wickets. What kind of plan did you follow there?
The conditions in Australia were more favourable, along with the fast tracks, which helped my kind of bowling. I was doing well, especially with the old ball, and the batsmen struggled.
Did you get to speak to any of the Aussie quicks who could have helped?
No, I didn't speak to any of the Australians. The only person I spoke to was Waqar, who was commentating. He told me to concentrate mostly on the old ball when it would take reverse swing and his suggestion worked wonders. Back home, another former Pakistan fast bowler, Aaqib Javed, who comes from my home town of Sheikpura, has always helped me a lot.
You lost your dad just before the first VB Series final but you decided to stay back at your mom's insistence. How did you fight all those emotions?
It would've taken me a few days to reach home and we couldn't have kept his dead body for so long. So my mom told me that I should stay back as my rushing back would not be of any use. And since both my parents have been my best fans, she asked me to do well. It was really difficult to convince myself that I had to play during that final in Melbourne. But by the grace of the almighty and my parents' wishes I put up a determined fight.
Did that performance add to your confidence before this Indian trip?
People started saying that the different nature of the wickets in Australia and in India would play a major role and I would be under pressure. It didn't really bother me as I was used to bowling on flat and unresponsive tracks back in Pakistan, too. I just needed to focus and sort the batsman out in my mind. Having studied each one's traits was handy, too.
You have been unable to produce the same kind of form in the Tests?
Yes, I know that. I will need to work much harder and, hopefully, with more games I should improve.
Do you think you arrived late on the international scene?
I don't think so. You would be surprised, I took up cricket only in 1994. Before that I used to play hockey at school-level.
But in the mid-90s I observed cricket was the most happening game and everyone was mad about it. I decided to try my hand. And I think I did the right thing.
There has been a vote to appoint a bowling coach for some time now. What is your opinion?
It would definitely help. At the moment Bob Woolmer has lot of jobs on his hands, so it would be ideal for him and us bowlers if there is another guy for guidance.