The 25-year-old bowled ten overs for 39 runs before hitting an unbeaten career best 85 to anchor Pakistan’s three-wicket win in the first one-day international against New Zealand in Dubai on Monday.
His left-arm slow bowling enabled Pakistan to overcome the loss of Hafeez who was suspended on Sunday over illegal bowling action.
On Monday, Hafeez played as batsman only with Sohail coming to the rescue as fifth bowler in the match, a cause of delight for the youngster.
“I am very happy to help Pakistan’s bowling,” said Sohail, who had bowled only 68 deliveries in 57 first-class matches before Monday.
“I have been bowling in the nets for two to three hours daily and the spin bowling coach (Mushtaq Ahmed), coach (Waqar Younis) and skipper (Misbah-ul Haq) all gave me confidence and it was a great encouragement,” said Sohail.
Pakistan have named both Hafeez and Ajmal in their preliminary 30-man squad for next year’s World Cup but would need extra help in bowling in case both failed to get cleared.
The International Cricket Council Tuesday cleared Sri Lanka’s Sachitra Senanayake and New Zealand’s Kane Williamson after re-tests.
Both were suspended over illegal bowling action in July this year.
Sohail hoped his match-winning performance will help him in future.
“I am confident that my performance will help me cement my place in the team,” said Sohail, who added a match-turning 110 runs for the seventh wicket with all-rounder Shahid Afridi who made 61.
Their partnership helped Pakistan recover from a precarious 124-6 to chase down the 247-run target in 49.3 overs.
The remaining matches will be played in Sharjah (December 12 and 14) and Abu Dhabi (December 17 and 19). – AFP