Fakhar Zaman obliges to his fans for selfies during a training session at the ICC Academy. The opener cracked a 65 off just 44 balls in the first match of the Pakistan Super League. Image Credit: K. R. Nayar/Gulf News

Dubai: Lahore Qalandars opener Fakhar Zaman, who cracked his third half-century in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in the opening match against Islamabad United is a firm favourite with the fans.

Though his knock of 65 off just 43 balls with six boundaries and three sixes went in vain as Islamabad won the match by five wickets, Zaman won the hearts of the crowd packed into Dubai International Stadium on Thursday night.

Zaman, who was the hero of Pakistan’s 2017 Champions Trophy triumph in the final against India in England, was seen working hard on his batting just before the first match at the ICC Academy. When a few fans requested for taking selfies with him, he not only obliged but assisted them in getting their shots just right. He patiently even answered their queries.

Fans love to watch his dashing batting style and ability to thwart any attack. He carries with him the honour of the first Pakistan batsman to score a double-century in ODIs, which he achieved against Zimbabwe in July last year.

Zaman is thankful to the PSL for bringing him to the fore. “We play domestic cricket a lot and get highlighted, but at the international level we got highlighted only through the PSL,” he said. “I remember I scored a half-century against Karachi Kings and after that (Pakistan team) head coach Mickey Arthur told me that I was ready for Pakistan. The PSL has played a great role in lifting my career.”

Zaman averages 53.40 in ODIs and is among the batsmen to watch out for during the oncoming ICC World Cup. However his current objective is to win the matches for Lahore. “I am very determined to score more runs and finish the games for my team,” he said. “As a team we were one-dimensional last year, we mostly had hard hitters and lacked experienced middle-order. This time we have planned our team well.”

Zaman is delighted that AB de Villiers, an equally aggressive batsman, is in his team. “It’s a dream come true,” said Zaman. “He retired last year, so didn’t get a chance to see him on our last tour to South Africa. But, he is in our team and I will be at the other end, so it’s a sleepless thought for me as to how I will feel. Maybe, awestruck, but I will try not to be like that as I have to bat and score runs for my team.”

Zaman got the opportunity to bat with De Villiers on Thursday night. He kept his word and did not slow down by watching the great South African player.

Zaman wants to pile up more runs in the PSL and candidly revealed how he has improved his game being with top foreign players. “I did not get to play in the first edition, but the next two helped me learn a lot. In PSL, you get a good platform and it is giving young players a very good chance to break into the Pakistan team. You improve in training, you get fitter but PSL gives you good match practice. You learn new methods of training by watching international stars. You mix with the best players and play against some of the best players from Pakistan. Even if they don’t tell anything, you get to see their work ethics. You get to know why the big players so successful.”