Monday, October 28, 2019

Pakistan's New Look Test Attack

With the test retirements of Mohammad Aamer and Wahab Riaz, Pakistan's selectors had to look into the trenches to find able replacements for the upcoming Test tour to Australia.

The Chief Selector, Misbah Ul Haq, surprised everyone when he named young pacers, Naseem Shah and Muhammad Musa, and the domestic spin stalwart, Kashif Bhatti in Pakistan's Test squad.

Niether of them have played international cricket yet.

Also returning to the fold was Imran Khan Snr, who has appeared in 9 tests for Pakistan but last appeared for them three years ago!

These 4 join the experienced Yasir Shah, and somewhat experienced Mohammad Abbas and Shaheen Afridi, in a 7 man attack that is part of Pakistan's Test squad for the two tests against Australia.

These 7 have played 61 tests collectively. Nathan Lyon alone has played 91!

Talk about inexperience, that too for a place like Australia.

We all are aware of what Yasir, Abbas, and Shaheen are capable of. Here is a look at what made the selectors include the other 4 in the squad.

He is 33 and has been around the domestic scene for 12 years now.

A left arm finger spinner, Kashif has a very impressive domestic record, having picked up 327 wickets in 83 first class matches at an average of 22.8 and economy of 2.6. He is quite handy with the bat too averaging 24.2 in these 83 FC matches with 10 fifties and 2 hundreds.

Kashif has represented Hyderabad in the domestic circuit and in the newly revamped domestic circuit he is part of the Sindh team.

In the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Kashif has played 3 matches in which he has picked up 10 wickets at an average of 27.4 and economy of 2.04!

He not only has wicket taking ability but can also stop the flow of runs, which as we know is what Misbah likes for choking the opposition in Test cricket.

In recent times, Pakistan's spinners have started their International careers in the 30s, including legends like Saeed Ajmal and Yasir Shah. It is the same for Kashif who has finally got his chance; he would be looking forward to getting an opportunity in Australia.

He is the most exciting name in Pakistan's line up in my view. Naseem is only 16 and he is extremely fast!

He made his first class debut only a year ago and has played a mere 5 first class games. However the impression he has made in those games is good enough to give him a crack at International cricket in a place where the wickets are the fastest in the world.

In 5 FC matches, Naseem has picked up 17 wickets at an average of 18.7 and economy of 2.9.

In the ongiong Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, he is representing Central Punjab and he is the second highest wicket taker among pacers with 9 wickets at an average of 26.2.

Naseem is a very exciting prospect and he would relish the opportunity to have a go at the Australian batsmen in Brisbane and Adelaide.

He is another young tearaway at 19 years old and we all saw him turn out for Islamabad United in the PSL earlier this year.

But why he is in Pakistan's test squad, I am not too sure.

For his 17 wickets, he averages 37.5 in 7 First Class matches and in the ongoing Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, his 5 wickets have cost him 68.4 per wicket.

I understand he is an exciting prospect and probably has a bright future ahead of him, but there are so many other pacers in the domestic circuit, who are currently doing so much better in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, who could have been considered for the Australia tour.

Just to name a few, the likes of Sameen Gul, Haris Rauf, Tabish Khan and Ehsan Adil have been quite impressive in the QeT, and definitely far better than Musa has been.

I also do not understand what has resulted in a recall for Imran Khan. He has not had a good QeT with 5 wickets in 4 matches at an average of 54.8. He has not done much in the 3 years that he has been out of Pakistan's Test side. Nor does his Test average of over 30 make it seem like he was dropped unfairly.

Then why is he back when there are so many more talented pacers in Pakistan?

While Naseem and Kashif are inspired selections and both represent players with immense potential who can deliver for Pakistan; Musa and Imran Khan selections do not make much sense.

I am most excited about Naseem Shah and hope he gets a chance to play at least one of the test matches down under.

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