Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Reflections on Pakistan's Test Squad for Sri Lanka

The celebrations of the World T20 win have been going on with such fervour, that the announcement of Pakistan' test squad for the tour of Sri Lanka, and Mohammad Yousuf's international return, have almost gone un-noticed.

Here are my thoughts on the squad.

Openers: Salman Butt, Khurram Manzoor

I'm always pleased when the PCB and its selectors display some common sense.

Salman Butt's woeful form in 20-20 cricket was no reason to keep him out of Pakistan's test plans. There's no doubt that he is Pakistan's first choice opener for tests and ODIs, and I'm glad the selectors think the same way.

Khurram Manzoor was there when Pakistan last played a test match; his good performance then has kept him in the line up. The selectors again deserve praise for continuing with him.

Ahmed Shehzad / Nasir Jamshed / Shahzaib Hasan should return for the ODIs and T20I, but for the tests Khurram is definitely the better bet.

Middle Order: Younis Khan, Mohammad Yousuf, Misbah Ul Haq, Shoaib Malik, Faisal Iqbal, Fawad Alam

On paper, that looks like an extremely impressive middle order.

I'm not at all pleased to see Yousuf back in the squad, however I do realize the importance of his presence in Pakistan's middle order, particularly for test matches.

He, along with Younis and Misbah are no doubt Pakistan's best bats at the moment, and they will occupy the three primary middle order positions.

Malik, Faisal, and Fawad will vie for the number 6 spot, unless the think-tank decides to go with Razzaq in order to play two spinners (will get to that in a bit).

Younis would probably want Malik in the XI, however I would like to see Faisal in there. He has been a part of Pakistan's test plans for a long time now and has always performed whenever given the chance.

Wicketkeeper: Kamran Akmal

Obviously there was no other choice.

Pace Attack: Umar Gul, Mohammad Aamer, Abdul Razzaq, Abdur Rauf

That for me is a bit thin, but I believe Pakistan is going to Sri Lanka with the plan to attack through spin.

Aamer comes into the test fold after displaying his talent on a world stage in T20 cricket.

He will definitely make his test debut in Sri Lanka, which will cap a stunning season for the 17 year old left armer.

2008-09 was Aamer's first full domestic season, during which he impressed everyone with 56 wickets in 10 first-class matches.

I believe he is our future and will surely play for Pakistan for many many years to come; provided that he is kept away from the shadows of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif.

Abdur Rauf has been rewarded for a successful domestic season, which he finished as one of the leading wicket takers.

Rauf has been around the domestic scene in Pakistan for a decade now and has a very impressive record with 447 wickets in 96 first-class matches. He has played a few ODIs for Pakistan but is yet to make his test debut.

He's got pace and swing, and he's one of the better pacers going around in Pakistan; I don't really mind seeing him play test cricket.

Abdul Razzaq is one selection that bemuses me though. I have never regarded him as a test player - his bowling is not effective for tests, while his batting alone is not enough to get him into a test XI.

No doubt he had an awesome return to international cricket at the World T20, but that should not have resulted in his recall to the test side.

Instead of him, I would have preferred a genuine pacer like Sohail Khan or Mohammad Talha.

Razzaq'a selection, however, is what implies Pakistan's spin plans (getting to that).

Spinners: Danish Kaneria, Saeed Ajmal

How I would have loved to see Shahid Afridi in there!

The PCB have said that Afridi requested for a 15-day break; had he not would he have been in the test squad?

I sure hope so.

The way he has been bowling of late, and for the last 2-3 years, there is no doubt in my mind that Afridi can be Pakistan's strike bowler in test matches as well.

He will definitely do a better job than Kaneria.

Kaneria returns, and I'm highly indifferent to that, just like his bowling.

Ajmal has thus far impressed in ODIs and T20Is; he now gets a chance to showcase his talent at the test level. He too will probably do a better job than Kaneria.

The Eleven

My XI: Salman, Khurram, Younis, Yousuf, Misbah, Faisal, Akmal, Rauf, Gul, Aamer, Ajmal.

I don't think Younis will go in with that. The selection of the squad indicates that it is very likely that Pakistan will attack with both Ajmal and Kaneria.

With that in mind, Pakistan will probably look to bring in Razzaq at 6 to have the option of a 3rd seamer.

Younis Khan's XI: Salman, Khurram, Younis, Yousuf, Misbah, Razzaq, Akmal, Gul, Kaneria, Aamer, Ajmal.

The team leaves for Sri Lanka next week and play their first tour game on 29th June, followed by the 1st test starting on 4th July.

Make your pitch on this post...

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15 Pitched:

  1. Wasim said...


    I don't know why Faisal Iqbal is in the team, I agree with you on Mohammad Yousaf he should have first proven his fitness and form,
    I also agree with you with Afridi's current bowling form I would prefer him any day over Kineria.

    For the ODi's I want to see Imran Nazir back it's ridiculous that is still out of the team.

    Dropping Tanvir is a mistake, he had a problem with his run up and was bowling no balls but all of his legal balls were quite dangerous I would pick him for a test any day above Rauf the guy is just average. I would play Ajmal instead of him on a spinning track and make room for Razzak as the third pacer.

    Akmal should open in test also, I am not too sure about Butt because he is clearly out of form, I think they should keep Khurram as the back up opener for Butt.

    I will pick the following players for the test series.

    1-Kamran Akmal

    2-Salman Butt

    3-Younis khan

    4-Mohammad Yousaf

    5-Misbah Ul Haq



    8-Umar Gul



    11- Rauf/ Ajmal depending upon the wicket

  2. Superunknown said...

    The team looks fairly decent with only questionable selection of Abdul Razzaq and moYO. Aint they going to demoralize the players who didnt cross over to ICL?

  3. Q said...


    Faisal has a food record in test cricket. He has played Pakistan's last few tests and he has a 50 to show in each of those.. he's definitely 1 of the top 5-6 test batsmen in the country. Better than Malik surely.

    I don't agree with Akmal opening. It makes sense in T20 and maybe in ODIs too.. but in tests to keep for a day and a half and then open is a tough ask.. Akmal has been exceptional at number 7 in tests and he strenghtens the batting line up by being there.. I would keep him there.

    Butt is not out of form. He can't play 20-20 cricket and he didn't do well in 20-20, thats all. Look at his recent ODIs and test innings, he has been fine.

    Imran Nazir hopefully will return for T20 and maybe even ODIs.. that squad will be announced in a few weeks.

    Tanvir has lost what made him into a dangerous bowler.. he has to prove himself again before he can come back into the team..

  4. Q said...


    I don't think they will demoralize them but there will be some problems no doubt.. esp with Moyo.. Razzaq seems to have gelled well with everyone..

  5. Wasim said...


    We have a very strong middle order at least on paper as you said, Akmal has played many good test innings and he looks to be in a good batting form so I think he should open.

    I am still not confident about Salman but we can give him another chance with Khurram as his back up.

    As regards Faisal I don't think he is by any means better than Malik you were joking right.

    Take a look at the two overs Tanvir bowled against SriLanka again and you will see he bowled many good balls but was struggling with the no balls and wides the rules for wides and no balls are different for test matches, that was the only reason I wanted him in the test team especially when Rauf has never impressed me he has a good domestic record but you know the quality of our domestic cricket, good performance against weaker teams can easily boost your average.

    I think Tanvir is a better bowler he needs a little support right now.

  6. Wasim said...

    Last 15 innings Faisal Played in test he only scored 292 where as Malik in last 15 innings scored 481
    it's a huge difference.

  7. Q said...


    Akmal is too valuable at 7 to risk him as opener.. plus with wicketkeeping for one entire innings, opening is a difficult task...

    Khurram and Butt have promise..

    Tanvir will probably be back for the ODIs.. im sure the team will support him there.. he's not yet a test bowler, I don't think.

    Faisal and Malik.

    For test matches, I believe Faisal is the better one between the two... u just need to take a glance at Faisal's domestic record to see the potential he has.. If Pakistan were playing tests consistently, he would have had a much better record..

    For ODIs, no doubt Malik is the better option.

  8. smk said...

    I think pakistan are doing the right thing by having specialist openers for tests.

    I'm not convinced of shoaib malik's spot in the team, though it's likely he's going to get the nod ahead of fawad and faisal.

    I would really like to see fawad play, his domestic record is quite outstanding and it's pretty extraordinary for pak selectors to not give him a long run in the team (are they trying to negate the hasan raza effect??)

    It will be interesting to see if yousuf and malik can sort out their differences...might play a role in malik's selection.

    Last time around, asif played the key role and was really announcing himself at the world stage. Can Aamer use this series to boost his test hopes??

  9. Q said...


    Welcome to Well Pitched. Have I seen u here before?

    I agree abt the specialist openers.

    Also abt Fawad Alam. He is the best batsman to come out of the domestic circuit for a while.. but I think he has to wait his turn.. there r others like Misbah and Faisal in the pecking order...

    I don't think Malik cuts it as a test player and would not have him in a test team but I doubt YK will leave him out of the XI..

    I'm not sure what they r going to play with.. cos Razzaq cannot be the 4th bowler.. he has to be the 5th.. so Razzaq might end up batting at 6..

    Lets wait and watch..

    Aamer will surely make his mark!

  10. Hani said...

    Overall, I have no problems with the team. I do have some concerns over Amir though. I don't think his body is strong enough to handle the strain it will be put through during those long, hard spells on dead tracks. I don't want our newest superstar to get a stress fracture or something. Remember Mohammad Zahid, he was the talk of the town before he went to Srilanka for a test series and ended up getting injured. He was never the same. Amir is younger and weaker than Zahid was, I think the team management needs to take very good care of him. Gul's injuries seem to be finally behind him, but we should still be careful with him as well.

    I have a question for you guys, do you think Mohammad Yousuf should be included in the ODI team?
    I don't.
    a) He isn't fit enough and is the weak link in our already weak fielding.
    b) We have good youngsters coming through, I think we should trust players like Fawad Alam and see how they perform.
    c) I've lost respect for him. He acts as if he is a man of faith, but runs over to the ICL when offered big money. Humiliates his country and his captain (Malik) by means of his comments in India ( of all the places).

    Most of all, I want to see how he reacts to not being included in the ODIs. I wonder if he'll run over to the ICL again.

  11. Q said...


    I share ur concerns abt Aamir, but I also think this is the best time to induct him into the test side. He has has an amazing first class season..


    That would tell u that he bowled on average 27 overs per game for his 10 matches.. and he came out injury free.. thats a good start.

    Being with the Pak team, he would undergo the right kind of training to build those muscles.

    He is our future and this is his start. IA it will be good one to a long career ahead.

    As for MoYo.. I wouldn't have even had him in the test side.. but I also feel our batting is weak in tests without him.. it'll be interesting to see if he can bring back the same form of the past.. he may struggle..

    I would not have him in the ODI team, but I think the PCB would.

  12. Superunknown said...

    would be keen to see how Malik gells with MoYO :)

  13. Q said...


    That would definitely be interesting to watch. What would happen if they are involved in a partnership?

    Knowing YK and Intikhab, I'm sure they would sit the both down and make them settle their differences..

  14. Anonymous said...

    what channel will this test series be broadcasted on in the uk

  15. Q said...

    I'm not sure anonymous..

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