Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Choices for Pakistan ahead of Historic Test against Ireland

Imam Ul Haq, the heavily criticized selection for Pakistan's summer tour to Ireland and England, is in line for a test debut following scores of 61 and 59* against Kent and Northamptonshire respectively.

Pakistan take on Ireland, who will be playing their first ever Test Match, starting this Friday and Imam looks well positioned to open the batting for Pakistan following his impressive scores in the tour matches.

Azhar Ali has not been able to get past 15 in the three innings he has had on tour; however given his experience and track record it goes without saying that he will be walking out to open with Imam in the upcoming test.

Sami Aslam just got 1 innings and failed to put up a score to push his case and it seems he will lose his opening spot to Imam Ul Haq.

I was quite surprised that Fakhar Zaman was not given a go in either game as he would have been my ideal candidate to open in the upcoming test matches.

I would still give Fakhar a go with Imam at the top, with Azhar Ali moving back to the crucial number three position.

This will enable Pakistan to strengthen their middle order with Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, and Sarfraz Ahmed to follow.

I hope they do not go in with Sarfraz at 6, like that did against Northamptonshire, as that leaves the batting quite brittle in my opinion. And if they do not play all three of Fakhar, Imam, and Azhar at the top then they would need to bring in Saad Ali or Usman Salahuddin at number 6 and neither of them were given a hit in the tour matches.

It has been quite a strange tactic by Pakistan to keep these youngsters away from the practice games.

The bowling line up looks more sorted than Pakistan's batting. In fact, Pakistan are actually spoiled for choices.

Shadab Khan will easily fit into Yasir Shah's shoes as he displayed in the tour game with a match winning 10 wicket haul.

The pace options are aplenty with Mohammad Aamir, Hasan Ali, Rahat Ali, Mohammad Abbas, and Faheem Ashraf.

Mohammad Abbas seems like the front runner though as he was the only one, besides Rahat Ali, who was among the wickets in Pakistan's win against Northamptonshire.

Hasan Ali and Mohammad Aamir were not able to pick many wickets, which creates some confusion in the camp. If both Abbas and Rahat get a shot then only one of Hasan and Aamir will get to play, though I am sure Sarfraz would want both of them in the XI.

It will be interesting to see what XI Pakistan field this Friday. My first choice would be:

1. Fakhar Zaman 2. Imam Ul Haq 3. Azhar Ali 4. Asad Shafiq 5. Babar Azam 6. Haris Sohail 7. Sarfraz Ahmed 8. Shadab Khan 9. Hasan Ali 10. Mohammad Aamir 11. Mohammad Abbas

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