Sports

Nothing unusual in Ibtisam Sheikh’s absence from starting line-up: Zalmi coach

Peshawar Zalmi head coach Mohammad Akram has said that there is nothing to read into leg-spinner Ibtisam Sheikh’s recent absence from the team’s line-up and that the youngster ‘has a very bright future’.
Ibtisam, a fresh-faced 19-year-old leggie from Hyderabad, featured in Zalmi’s opening three matches of Pakistan Super League 2018, impressing both with his tricky bowling and athletic fielding, picking five wickets and grasping two brilliant catches.
But he has been missing from the starting line-up in the last two games — something coach Akram says is common practice in franchise cricket.
“He [Ibtisam] is our kid; we brought him here and we want to groom him,” said Akram. “He is an asset for Pakistan. But in franchise cricket you mix and match and go with a combination of youth and experience so you can’t use everyone.
“[Having said that,] he is in great hands. Saqlain Mushtaq is regularly working with him. He has a very bright future.”
The Zalmi head coach was also asked about captain Darren Sammy’s fitness, with the West Indian having missed the last game due to a knee injury.
“Sammy’s condition is a lot better than we first feared,” said Akram. “His scan was completely clear. His knee was overstretched and a bit puffy but after icing he is feeling much better. We expect him to be back soon.”
In Sammy’s absence, Mohammad Hafeez has been asked to lead Zalmi, and Akram has full faith in the stand-in skipper’s abilities.
“Hafeez is fully capable to lead,” said Akram. “He has captained Pakistan before and all the juniors listen to him so we’re confident in his abilities.”