Sunday, February 9, 2020

Shan Masood's Second Innings

20 Test Matches, 38 innings, 1189 runs, average of 31.28, three hundreds, six fifties.

This is Shan Masood's Test Career, which began 6 years and a few months ago. 6 years and only 20 test matches? Exactly!

These numbers don't provide a true picture of Shan Masood the test cricketer.

Having scored 75 on his debut, in October 2013, one would have expected to see Shan as a regular test opener for Pakistan, but after two tests in that series, he did not play for another year, till his return in October 2014 for two more tests.

Following that, he played 7 months later in July 2015 when he scored his first test century and became a part of Pakistan's test history with that record chase in Pallekele.

He played another two tests at the end of 2015, and then went to England with the Pakistan team in  the summer of 2016 but played only two of the four test matches.

After that tour he was sidelined again and returned a year later in May 2017 for one of the three tests in the West Indies. He played Pakistan's next two tests in October 2017, and then was sidelined once again till December 2018.

Since Shan Masood's test debut in October 2013 and his latest return to the test team in December 2018, Pakistan played 45 tests, out which Shan played only 12!

How can any player perform consistently if he plays only 2 to 3 tests every year? How can anyone expect a player to perform if he plays only 12 tests in the first 5 years of his career?

In these 12 tests, Shan scored 565 runs in 24 innings at an average of 23.54 with 1 hundred and 3 fifties.

Shan returned to Pakistan's test side in December 2018 for the tour to South Africa. Since then he has played all of Pakistan's 8 test matches.

In South Africa he stood out for his temperament and the way he countered the new ball against Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander, and Kagiso Rabada. Shan was Pakistan's top run scorer in that series and the second highest run scorer between both sides, behind only Quinton de Kock.

He went to Australia and continued to demonstrate immense skill countering the new ball. He gave a good account of himself against the best pace attack in the world comprising Starc, Hazlewood, and Cummins.

When Test cricket returned to Pakistan in December 2019, Shan Masood was there as Pakistan's first choice test opener. In that series, he marked his presence with a solid 135 in Karachi, in another record breaking test match.

Yesterday, Shan walked out to open against Bangladesh, in his 8th consecutive test match for Pakistan. When he walked back to the pavilion he had scored his third test century, and a second consecutive one!

Finally, he has had an interrupted run for over a year in Pakistan's test side and he is completely repaying the faith placed in him by the selectors and the team management.

In these 8 tests, Shan has scored 624 runs at an average of 44.57 with two centuries and three fifties.

In these 8 tests, he is Pakistan's second highest run scorer in Tests, behind only Babar Azam.

Now these numbers are more representative of a test opener, a regular Pakistan test opener. These numbers are also representative of a talented batsman who has been given a consistent run in the team.

Shan is Pakistan's first choice test opener now. Ahead of Imam Ul Haq, ahead of Fakhar Zaman, ahead of Abid Ali. He is a test regular and notably the one that Pakistan rely on the most after Babar Azam.

Shan had shown glimpses of this promise in his debut test innings (7 years ago), and again in that record partnership with Younis Khan in Pallekele (5 years ago). Perhaps he should have never been sidelined and maybe then he would have delivered on this promise much earlier.

But he has a lot to look forward to.

He is still only 30.

Pakistan will play plenty of test cricket going forward...

... and Shan Masood will be the first name on that team sheet for a long time to come.

Make your pitch on this post...

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2 Pitched:

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