Exclusive: Saad Bin Zafar talks about his GT20 league final heroics, his journey, inspiration and more
Canadian all-rounder Saad Bin Zafar delivered a herculean performance in the final of the GT20 Canada league to guide Vancouver Knights to victory. Zafar earned a name for himself overnight after his wonderful performance in the final. The all-rounder was a part of the Vancouver Knights and played under Chris Gayle's leadership. Saad rose through the ranks in 2008 when he represented Canada for the first time. In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda Saad revealed various things related to his career.
Saad's journey began at the age of 10 when he began playing tennis ball cricket.
"I started playing cricket when I was 10 years old with tennis ball. Later at the age of 14, my school cricket coach encouraged me to join leather ball cricket and put me in schools' junior cricket team. I started playing club cricket when I moved to Canada in 2004 and after some consistent performances for a few years in 2008, I was picked to represent Canada in a first-class game against Bermuda".
The 31-year-old shared the dressing room with the likes of Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Tim Southee, Chadwick Walton, Sheldon Cottrell and Ben Dunk. When asked about his experience and learning Saad talked about the calmness factor.
"Players like Chris Gayle and Andre Russell are one of the best cricketers in the world. It was a dream come true for me to share the dressing room with them, getting to know them and playing alongside them. I learnt a lot from them during these 3 weeks I got to spend with them with regards to how they go about their business, on and off the field".
Saad learned the trick of staying calm and focused during pressure situations, "One of the key things I picked from them is their ability to stay calm, composed and focused in pressure situations. They never show any signs of nervousness or panic regardless of how tough the situation gets during the course of the game.
And more often then not they come out victorious because of this positive attitude they carry with them". In the following years, the Canadian all-rounder would definitely like to add all these characteristics to his game.
In the final of the GT20 League, the Vancouver Knights restricted the CWI B team to a mere 145. Chasing a modest total of 146, Knights lost three early wickets. They were strangled at 22 for 3 with Walton, Gayle and Dunk back in the hut. Saad came in at number 5 and delivered his final heroics scoring an unbeaten 79 off just 48 deliveries. For the most part of the tournament, Saad batted lower down the order but Gayle's decision to promote him up the order proved to be a vital one.
"It was not something pre-planned to be honest. It was a sudden decision that Chris took. He told me to pad up after we lost 2 quick wickets in 2 overs. And before I knew it I was batting in the centre as we lost the 3rd wicket in the 4th over. The instructions were to build a partnership and break the momentum of the opponent. I believe he chose me for that position as I had an unbroken 47 runs partnership in an earlier game against Toronto with Chadwick Walton", said Saad.
While growing up the all-rounder idolized Saeed Anwar, Michael Bevan and Brian Lara and this is evident from the southpaw's technique. When asked about the player who he would like to share the dressing room with he immediately said "Virat Kohli".
When asked about his views about the GT20 League, Saad said, "GT20 gave me an opportunity and platform to showcase my talent. This is the best thing that has happened for Canadian cricket. It will definitely improve our cricket and put us back on the map of the cricketing world. I hope more local cricketers get picked and get to play in years to come so they can gain from this priceless experience".
Currently, a maximum of two players from Canada were a part of the XI of every team. Saad believes that including more local players would help them to grow and Canada cricket can get back to the cricketing map with the GT20 league.