Dhaka: 7:10 PM, Mon, 24 Jun, 2019

'Yorker Machine' Ali, story of a cricket lover

Nasim : risingbd.com
Publish on: 2019-01-08 1:20:41 PM     ||     Updated: 2019-01-09 2:14:06 PM

Yeasin Hasan: Nicknamed 'Yorker Machine' by his US teammates, Ali Khan is playing in Bangladesh Premier League (BPL). Khulna Titans bagged him. The player already showed his mastery at the match against Rangpur Riders on Sunday. 

Just as his national exposure became apparent in 2013, he was building a name for himself on the international scene during the tour of the West Indies. Only playing two full matches, he earned a spot in the Guyana Amazon Warriors squad to compete in the Caribbean Premier League later that summer. He came under the search light of West Indies legend also Bangladesh bowling Coach Courtney Walsh and got a ladder to go ahead. The talented cricketers took scope to play in ICC Americas.

The Pakistan-born USA cricketer talked to the risingbd.com’s reporter Yeasin Hasan. Some attractive features were unearthed during the discussion.

Risingbd: Had a sound sleep yesterday night?
Ali khan: Yeah, but if we would win the last game then that would be much better.

Risingbd: Although you lost the game but you should be happy with your bowling?
Ali khan: Quite a bit. But, every match is important. We play to get good results, if we don’t get it then all efforts turn into vain. 

Risingbd: Are you enjoying the BPL?
Ali khan: It’s my first time here in Bangladesh. It’s a lovely place. We had a good training season before starting the tournament. We played the first match yesterday…Till now the support of players, coaching staff and the management was really good. Thanks to Khulna Titans for making me part of this family.

Risingbd: What was the first reaction when you got call from khulna Titans?
Ali khan: It’s mean lot to me. I was very happy and excited at that time. I wanted to be here. Earlier, I watched BPL on Television. But, Now I am playing the tournament. Hope, I will be able to do better for the team. 

Risingbd: After CPL and global t-20 in Canada you are playing here? How this franchise league is playing a role to improve your bowling?
Ali khan: It has a great role in my carrier. My bowling has improved a lot since global t-20…After global t-20, I got the opportunity to play for Trinbago Night Riders (TKR) in CPL. It’s been a great learning process. I had a great experience while playing with all the veteran players and learnt from them and picked their cricket skills. I am trying to use those skills and becoming more experienced gradually.

Risingbd: How does it feel to work with Mahela Jayawardene (Khulna Coach)?
Ali khan: He is a great guy and a cricket legend. I am really excited after the getting scope to work with him. In few days, I have learnt a lot from him already. Hope, I will use the time properly which I will get from him in the whole tournament. He told me to continue to cricket rhythm and do normal playing.

Risingbd: Have you any specific target in the BPL?
Ali khan: I am just eager to take as many wickets as possible for my team. I want to see my team in wining phase. That’s my one and only expectation right now.

Risingbd: What was your inspiration?
Ali khan: I grew up in Pakistan. Cricket is the main sports there. I used to watch cricket since my boyhood. I am a big fan of Shoaib Akter, Waqar Yunus. I also love the playing of Bret Lee. Watching the cricket of these players from my early ages, I fall in love of cricket and I wanted to be like them…

Risingbd: What was your earliest cricket memory?
Ali khan: In my childhood, I used to play with my cousins and brothers at roof top of our house. We played cricket at our house at nights. Breaking glasses, windows were regular matters. That days were really amazing.
Risingbd: When and why you moved to USA?
Ali khan: My whole family moved to USA in 2010. It’s been 9 years I have been living there. We moved to USA due to family reason.

Risingbd: How did you start first playing cricket in USA?
Ali khan: When I first went to USA, I started playing in local cricket club. Later, I played in USA super CUP that was the biggest tournament in USA. All the international players play in that tournament. My performance got an exposer in local domestic cricket first. Then, discussion took place in local cricket grounds. Later, a decision was finalized with the combined initiatives by the ICC and America in 2015. I joined the trials and got scope in the list of 14 out of 90 players. 

Risingbd: Bangladesh bowling Coach Courtney Walsh was impressed by your bowling there…
Ali khan: he was one of the selectors there who picked me for the final 11. In trials, I tried my best. I had a believe that the selectors will select me and I will be selected if I can do better. 

Risingbd: Is it hard to play cricket in USA?
Ali khan: When I went to USA first, I started working for a cellular company. I thought cricket as a career was not an option for me anymore as I had never heard that USA has any cricket team or Americans love cricket. Living in US and playing cricket isn’t easy. If you’re a full time worker then you will not get enough time to practice as you will have to play during weekends only. And I started playing in that way.

Risingbd: Cricket has built your career. You got USA citizenship…
Ali khan: Yes, cricket gives me a lot of things. A good number of young cricketers are showing interest on cricket watching me. That’s why I feel from my inner side that I have to do better. If I play better then, many cricket lovers will be inspired.

Risingbd: USA recently qualified for the ICC world cricket league division-2 for the first time! Americans must be happy with this achievement…
Ali khan: Yes, it’s a great achievement. Such achievement was not seen earlier. We are only one step behind from the One-Day status. Our second division play will be started soon. If we can finish that tournament staying in top 4 then will get One-Day status.

Risingbd: How much popularity of cricket in USA?  
Ali khan: Well, the popularity of cricket in USA is not seen yet. We just move one step ahead. Now we are in division 2. After getting the One-Day status, our next target will be to gain the ability to play world cup. If we can do that then, we will get so many people beside us.

Risingbd: Where do you want to see US cricket in next five years?
Ali khan: We will play world cup by next five years.

Risingbd: What do you think how much time will be required for USA need to get ODI Status?
Ali khan: We are just one step behind. The tournament of Division-2 will be started by next April. If we can secure top four position out of six then we will get ODI status. Hope, the good news will come within the couple of months.  

Risingbd: How does it feel to get wicket of Kumar Sangakara in very first Ball?
Ali khan: It’s a great achievement in my career. Sangakara is a legend in cricket. It’s a dream for any bowlers to get his wicket. I did not expect his wicket in first spell. I was really happy at that moment.
Risingbd: What is your main bowling strength?
Ali khan: Pace and Yorkers. 

Risingbd: How did you get the title of ‘Yorker machine’?
Ali khan: I played a lot of cricket match in tape-ball in Pakistan. I used to do Yorker ball at that time. From then I was named as Yorker machine. Later, I continued my Yorker bowling in cricket ball. I am successful here also. It’s a great strength in my bowling.

Risingbd: Who is your favorite cricketer or idol?  
Ali khan: Shoab Akter is my all-time favorite. He was good at Yorker. He was too fast in bowling. I used to follow him. When I was kid I tried to throw ball like him.  

Risingbd: Describe yourself in three words?
Ali khan: Fast, furious and Yorker King.

Risingbd: Your dream in Cricket?
Ali khan: Right now the dream is…I want to play the India Premier League (IPL). I believe if I can continue working hard then I will get a scope to play IPL.

Risingbd: Tell me about your family?
Ali khan: They are supporting me a lot... I just wanna do well and make them happy. 

risingbd/Dhaka/Jan 8, 2019/Yeasin Hasan/Nasim

Marcel Fridge