Shahzad hopeful of World Cup call
Ajmal Shahzad hopes he has done enough to warrant a place in England’s 15-man World Cup squad, which will be announced on Wednesday.
After sitting out the whole of the Ashes, the Yorkshire paceman has finally been given the chance to impress the England selectors in the one-day series against Australia.
Despite James Anderson and Stuart Broad being Andrew Strauss’ likely first-choice seamers at the World Cup, Shahzad’s inclusion in the touring party to Australia has given the 25-year-old the chance to force himself into Wednesday’s squad.
Shahzad, who has been on the fringes of team director Andy Flower’s set-up for a year, was England’s most economical seamer in the first one-day international and is hoping his performance in Melbourne will help him stake a claim for a place in the World Cup party.
“I don’t know what they (the selectors) are going to do in regards to the World Cup squad,” he said.
“Hopefully I’ve done enough. I'd love to be in there and keep learning and keep progressing and hopefully give the coaches and selectors other options but I guess we will see in the next few days what they go for.”
Shahzad has spent long periods of the tour on the sidelines, but says his run of four consecutive appearances in the limited-overs matches has fuelled his confidence.
However, with limited international experience, he admits the need for more games before he can produce his best.
"I haven't played a lot of matches for England," he added.
"It's a confident feeling to get a few under the belt back-to-back rather than just getting called in now and again. I want to get a run and make the most of it.
"Personally I thought I did okay. I'm starting to feel as though I'm getting into a better rhythm now in regards to everything.
"It's been frustrating and difficult just to bowl at batsmen in the nets. There's only so much you can do.
"My batting, my bowling and my fielding - I feel like I belong on the pitch now. Hopefully I can get a decent run and show what I have got to offer."
Shahzad says he has been working hard on his game behind the scenes to try to book a trip to the World Cup.
“I give a little bit of everything to be honest with you,” he added.
“I give a lot of energy in the field. I’ve been working very hard on my fielding and my all-round game when I haven’t been playing in the Test matches.”
Shahzad, who has only played five ODIs, also believes he has the correct attributes to succeed in the sub-continent, where the World Cup will be held.
“With regards to the ball I can control the reverse swing and obviously in the sub-continent that will be a key factor for us,” he said.
“Trying to keep it tight and bowling at the death. I think I have shown what I can do when opening the bowling and bowling early on and finishing off the game at the end and obviously coming in late on and hitting a few balls out of the ground.
“Hopefully I can do enough to get myself in the World Cup squad.”
Shahzad feels for veteran Paul Collingwood after the batsman was omitted from the side for the first one-day international at the MCG.
After the game skipper Strauss confirmed the 34-year-old had been dropped due to his poor tour with the bat.
While Collingwood has averaged just 13.12 in international matches since arriving in Australia, the decision to leave him out came as a slight surprise after being one of England's best one-day batsman over the past two years.
Collingwood enjoyed a stellar series in South Africa 12 months ago and has averaged 43.03 with the bat in the past 24 months.
But with so many of England's batsmen in top form in Australia, Shahzad said the competition for places means no player can afford to be comfortable of their place.
"Colly being dropped, it was the selectors' decision and shows they will only put the best XI out on the pitch," he said. "It's a good environment to be in - it's very competitive and it keeps everyone on their toes.
"From a personal point of view I've been sat outside the Ashes and not been involved in them.
"I think the lads have been performing to the best of their abilities because we have been putting the pressure on them. That brings out the best in everyone else."