Shoaib Malik’s pep talk lifted Pakistan’s spirits, says Zaman

The opener was greeted to a hero’s welcome at Peshawar on Tuesday.

Fakhar Zaman being greeted by fans at the Bacha Khan International Airport in Peshawar on Tuesday.   -  AFP

Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman, who scored a match-winning century in the Champions Trophy final, has credited former captain Shoaib Malik for motivating the team after its disastrous start to the tournament.

Zaman was greeted on Tuesday to a hero’s welcome at Peshawar from where he journeyed by road to Mardan, his birth place. “Shoaib Malik gave an inspirational talk at the meeting and he said things about our proud cricket history that really hit us. I think it breathed new life into our campaign. We decided at that meeting that we will play all remaining matches with a changed approach and be more aggressive,” he said.

Zaman, who nearly missed the final due to a stomach bug, said he had given up on playing the summit clash the night before after vomiting and suffering stomach pain. “But all credit to our physio who stayed up with me late and treated me and he assured me I will be okay in the morning and ready to play the big match. I myself had given up on playing against India which has always been my dream,” he said.

Zaman also talked about not taking any pressure when facing world class bowlers. “I try to give them respect but never get bogged down. I try to play shots because that is the only way to pressurise a bowler. I enjoyed batting against a top-class spinner like (Ravichandran) Ashwin in the final. Hitting him for boundaries was a good feeling because he is a quality bowler,” he said.

After reaching the final Pakistan was very keen to give the nation an Eid gift, according to Zaman. “More than anything, we wanted to show the world that even though we don’t have international teams coming to play here we are a powerhouse in world cricket,” Zaman added.