Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Which two batsmen will replace Misbah and Younis in Pakistan's Test XI?

From Javed Miandad to Inzamam Ul Haq to Mohammad Yousuf to Younis Khan, Pakistan have always had a formidable number 4 in Test matches. In most of Pakistan's Test XIs, the number four batsman is usually their primary batsman.

Javed Miandad fulfilled that role for most part of his career. He batted at number 4 in 140 out of his 189 test innings.

Once he retired, Saleem Malik took over the number four position briefly, before moving back to number five and promoting Inzamam Ul Haq up the order.

Inzamam batted at four in half of his total career innings and made that position his own before moving down the order and promoting Mohammad Yousuf to four, who was at the time at the peak of his batting prowess.

Younis Khan, who had batted at number three for most of his career and formed part of Pakistan's best test middle order with Inzamam and Yousuf, moved to the number four position after the retirements of the latter two.

Younis batted at 4 till the end of his career performing as well as he had done at three and as well as his predecessors.

As evident, all these batsmen performed admirably at number four.

So who is going to fill these big boots now that Younis Khan has retired?

More importantly, who is going to fill the big hole left in Pakistan's Test middle order with the retirements of both Younis and Misbah Ul Haq?

In the past 7 years since Misbah took over Pakistan's Test captaincy, he and Younis have collectively scored 30% of Pakistan's Test runs and 38% of Pakistan's Test hundreds.

How do you replace 9,000 test runs and 26 test centuries?

Just like Miandad and Malik passed on the mantle to Inzamam and Yousuf, they passed it on to Younis and Misbah. And now with these two moving on, the mantle sits firmly with Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq.

Both Azhar and Asad made their test debuts around the same time as Misbah made his test captaincy debut. During this period, Azhar and Asad have established themselves as the cornerstones of Pakistan's test batting line up.

While Azhar made his mark as a number 3 and later as an opener, Asad has made history as a number 6 test batsman.

Asad will most likely fill the vacant number 4 position, but Pakistan still require two test batsmen to bat at numbers 5 and 6.

Here is a list of potential incumbents whom I believe can take Pakistan's Test team forward.


He is 31. He has scored over 10,000 first class runs with 25 centuries and averages 56, higher than any other cricketer in Pakistan ever.

He has played 3 tests for Pakistan and even scored a debut 100. In fact he was the first batsman from Pakistan to score a test century on debut away from home.

Yet after 6 test innings, he was discarded and never played a test again.

In last season's Quaid-e-Azam trophy, he averaged 55, scoring 500 runs in 11 innings. In every first class season, he is among the leading run scorers. I have not seen a more consistent batsman in Pakistan than Fawad and it will always remain a mystery to me as to why he is constantly ignored by the selectors.


This 26 year old batsman from Lahore was picked for 2 ODIs during the tour to the West Indies in 2011. He did not appear for the international side after that, however he has been a consistent performer in domestic cricket.

In 10 first class seasons, he has piled on 6,000 runs with 19 centuries at an impressive average of 47.

He was the 4th highest run scorer in the last Quaid-e-Azam Trophy where he amassed 843 runs in 17 innings with 3 centuries and 5 fifties at an average of 70.

He has been on the verge of national selection for a while now and it is finally time he finds a permanent spot in Pakistan's Test XI.


Haris has not played a first class match in over 3 years due to injury, however he has a phenomenal record, and he has shown in ODIs that he belongs at the highest level of the game.

His career first class average of 52 and 11 centuries in 80 odd innings with a career best of 211* suggests that he is made for the long version of the game. Even in ODIs, he showed his liking for staying at the crease, and his ODI average of 43 demonstrates that he is a world class batsman.

He might be the ideal replacement for a batsman like Misbah.


He is only 21 and has been around for only 3 seasons. His overall first class average of 35 suggests that he still has to establish himself in the domestic circuit; however he has just had a breakthrough season where he notched up 848 runs in 20 innings in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and ended the tournament as its third highest run scorer.

Imam, who is the nephew of Chief Selector Inzamam Ul Haq, was extremely impressive in the QEA Trophy where he knocked 3 centuries and 3 fifties, including a career best unbeaten 200.

Some may feel that it may be too early to blood him, but I feel it might just be the right time for a young batsmen with tremendous potential to be introduced the highest level.


A veteran of the domestic circuit, Asif has been around for 15 years and at 33 he might be past the ideal age to make a test debut, but then we have all seen Misbah blossom as a test batsman after the age of 35.

Asif's overall first class record is not that impressive - 7,000 runs, 19 centuries, and average of 37. However, he was the second highest run scorer in last season's Quaid-e-Azam Trophy with 853 runs in 11 innings at an average of 85.3. He hit as many as 4 centuries during the tournament.

So there are a few options for Pakistan's selectors to consider. Pakistan's next test series is some time away so the selectors have time on their hands before making their decisions. It will be interesting to note which batsmen make it into the squad and then which two make it to the XI.

My first two choices will be Fawad Alam and Haris Sohail; however I would also like to see Usman Salahuddin and Imam Ul Haq in the squad.

With Babar Azam set at number 3, ideally Asad Shafiq should move up to number 4, with the two new batsmen fitting in at 5 and 6.

Sami Aslam should also be brought back to open with Azhar Ali. The tour to West Indies showed us that Ahmed Shehzad and Shan Masood are not in the same league as Sami, who impressed with his temperament during the tour of England.

Azhar, Sami, Babar, Asad, Haris, Fawad sounds formidable enough to me!

Make your pitch on this post...

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,