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Facing Indian spinners will be tough: Shah

We want to bowl them out and impose follow-on instead of batting again, Owais said.

india Updated: Mar 20, 2006 15:10 IST

It took Owais Shah 10 long years to make his Test debut for England after starting his stint in the first-class version of the game. And the 27-year-old Karachi-born batsman made full use of the opportunity scoring a useful 88, which helped England reach 400 in the first innings of the deciding Test against India on Sunday.

When Shah was drafted in as a replacement for injured England captain Michael Vaughan, he wouldn’t have hoped to make it to the Test squad. All he would have been planning to do was to make his case in the one-dayers as he was getting an opportunity after waiting in the wings for three years.

However, minutes before the team’s departure to the ground on the morning of the match, coach Duncan Fletcher hinted Shah about his inclusion in the playing XI as Alastair Cook was ruled out of the match due to gastroenteritis.

“It just happened so quickly,” said Shah. “I could never prepare myself for the Test debut, but it didn’t matter as other factors don’t have anything to do once you get in there.”

And it was fantastic debut. He drove the first ball he faced, a floater by Harbhajan Singh, to the cover fence and then never looked back until he was brilliantly caught by Dravid.

Shah, after playing his first match for Middlesex way back in 1996, was hailed by Wisden as a promising teenager. He justified it by entering into the shorter version of international cricket after two excellent seasons in county cricket.

Despite being dropped from the England team in 2003 and relieved from the Middlesex captaincy the next year, Shah kept himself going. He even had a short stint with Mohammad Azharuddin in Hyderabad in February 2004 to improve on his technique.

And after scoring 1,600-odd runs in the English county championship last year, he didn’t have a place in the England squad.

But Shah said it wasn’t frustrating. “After winning the Ashes in September, I always knew that they are not going to change the winning combination. Besides, I look up to someone like Australia’s Mike Hussey, who took a long time to get on to the international arena after consistently scoring in first-class cricket.

“So rather than scratching head on the selection matters, which is not my job, I focussed on my individual performance with.”

Shah said the pitch would get difficult to bat on in the second innings. “Facing two world-class spinners on such a track will certainly be a tough task. However, instead of thinking of batting in the second innings, we are thinking of bowl them out at the earliest and impose follow-on.”

First Published: Mar 20, 2006 02:13 IST