A Young Pakistan Cricket Team Puts Up A Spirited Show
About a year back, on May 14th to be precise, the Pakistan Test team as we had known it for almost 6 years ceased to exist. With the retirement of Misbah ul-Haq and Younis Khan, Pakistan were entering into a new phase under new captain Sarfraz Ahmed.
It is a reality of international cricket structure and scheduling today that this young team played just 2 test matches in a 12 month period.
A shaky performance against Ireland did little to calm their nerves ahead of the 1st Test at Lords and England’s unbeaten record in their first test of the summer since 1995 meant expectations from the new look Pakistan side were low.
This was in sharp contrast to the high profile series two years ago in 2016 when Pakistan arrived for a 4 match Test series ranked number 2 and the two sides battled for Test supremacy. A 2-2 series scoreline helped Pakistan earn the Test mace for the first time since it’s inception. This time the two sides are ranked 5 and 7 and are battling to prove their relevance as a Test side.
By the time the teams were back for the final session on Day 1, Hasan Ali and Mohammad Abbas, two bowlers who made their debuts in the last 12 months, had 4 wickets each to bundle out England for a paltry 184 after Joe Root opted to bat in overcast conditions.
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There has been a pattern of some sort in recent times where Mickey Arthur lays down the game plan pre-match in order to lay some psychological blows and his disciplined and professional side go and carry it out. This time Arthur talked about the lengths and the need to bowl a fuller length in order to allow the ball the maximum chance to swing in the air. Abbas did just that with the new ball and started the rut with a peach of delivery that pitch on leg and disturbed Stoneman’s off.
At the other end, Hasan Ali produced a searing spell of pace and reverse swing to set up an England collapse despite a fighting half century from Alastair Cook who demonstrated some his best form in recent times.
With Haris Sohail and Imam ul Haq being newbies in Test cricket and Babar Azam still struggling to find his feet at this level, Pakistan will look to Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq, the two cricketers who found themselves in a similar situation two years ago to lead the batting.
The discipline, professionalism and energy on the field backed up the talk of strenuous fitness regimes and training the team has been talking about. This series might just be the start of something special for young team with a dedicated core bunch.
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