“I always thrive… when I’m given that extra responsibility”; Saqib Mahmood delighted to take his England opportunity with man-of-the-match display against Pakistan; Rob Key says the fast bowler was “perfect” and backs him to play for his country in all formats
Saqib Mahmood took two wickets with his first three balls to get England off to a flyer in Cardiff
Saqib Mahmood further enhanced his growing reputation with four wickets in a man-of-the-match display as a much-changed England side thrashed Pakistan in the first one-day international.
The 24-year-old Lancashire fast bowler, playing in just his fifth ODI, took two wickets in the first three balls of the match and finished with figures of 4-42 in a comprehensive nine-wicket win for the hosts under stand-in captain Ben Stokes.
With the entirety of the initial England squad self-isolating following a coronavirus outbreak in the camp, Mahmood was one of the more experienced players in the revised group and pressed his claim for more regulation inclusion with a match-winning display in Cardiff.
- Mahmood mauls Pakistan in England rompFirst ODI scorecard: England vs Pakistan
“I always thrive, whatever team I play for, when I’m given that extra responsibility,” he told reporters.
“Speaking to Stokesy, he said he wanted me to take the new ball and even out there, bringing me on when we needed wickets, that sort of stuff, I thrive off that. I’m glad I was able to back that up and make the most of that responsibility.”
The best of the action from the first ODI between England and Pakistan
Asked whether he might have expected to have played more games for England by now, Mahmood pointed to the quality of the players currently ahead of him in the pecking order and admitted that previously he had not quite done enough when he had been given a chance.
“I think the main thing is that this is the No 1 side in the world and you’ve got to do some pretty special things to take over from the guys who have got the spots,” he said.
“When I’ve played for England, I haven’t managed to take that opportunity. I don’t think it is a side where when you come in, you’ve got time to settle, I guess.
“You’ve got to come in and make the most of your opportunity because there are that many good players around, especially if you’re trying to come in and try and nail your place down.
“I’ve felt in the T20s I haven’t nailed my place yet but in the ODIs, I was just starting to make a few strides last summer. I haven’t played for the past 12 months but I’m glad I was able to take that opportunity today and hopefully I can back it up for the rest of the series.”
While his international career has been solely in the white-ball arena to date, Mahmood has impressed for Lancashire in the County Championship this season and confirmed that he also has ambitions to play Test cricket.
Ben Stokes praised England for doing the basics right in a ‘clinical performance’ as the side secured a nine-wicket victory over Pakistan in the first ODI in Cardiff
Sky Sports pundit Rob Key believes the Birmingham-born bowler has improved significantly since he first got his chance with England and all the tools to continue his progress in white-ball cricket and force his way into the red-ball side as well.
“It’s not as easy, I don’t think, for a fast bowler to catch your eye,” the former England batsman said. “But, straight away, as soon as he started, he was perfect.
“He has that angle in, and just gets the ball to straighten. He is quick – 88, 89mph – and has good control. Plus, he looks a pretty smart bowler – he is constantly setting his own fields.
“It was so encouraging for England. He was absolutely brilliant from the start, he gave Pakistan no room to breathe whatsoever.
“I thought he was outstanding.
“We get carried away in England when someone puts in a good performance but from what we saw in the Roses clash earlier in the year, when you watch him on the streams, I reckon he’s someone who we will start to see in all formats for England and he’s really enhanced his case.”