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  1. #1
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    Pakistan vs Sri Lanka : The series raised more questions than answers for Pakistan

    In his latest article for FirstPost Sports, Saj analyses Sarfaraz Ahmed's debut as Test captain and how curious selections and puzzling decisions might have left us with more questions than answers.

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    Fortress UAE has fallen, or so the headlines will scream for a few days as passionate followers of Pakistani cricket take time to absorb the news of their first Test series loss in the UAE since 2002.

    Sri Lanka, to their immense credit, looked like a spent force prior to this series but transformed themselves into a formidable unit once they got the measure of a below-par and disorganised Pakistan Test team. Winning and losing in sports is a given, but the manner of capitulation matters and that has left Pakistan fans scratching their heads and wondering about the causes of their Test team’s demise in the UAE, in a series they were expected to win with ease.

    Whilst the visitor’s triumph cannot be downplayed in any shape or form, there is a strong case for laying the blame on Pakistan’s shock defeat on some curious and puzzling selection decisions which may well go a long way in explaining the 2-0 Test whitewash at the hands of Sri Lanka.

    As has been apparent to any observer of Pakistan’s recent Test history, the reliance on two dependable work-horses in the shape of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan has been the basis of their more than commendable record on the placid pitches of the UAE. What obviously went unnoticed or was not fully appreciated every time the Pakistan team lifted a series trophy was the immense role the two stalwarts would play in rescuing, stabilising and then propelling the Pakistan innings to ultimately match-winning scores.

    The retirement of Misbah and Younis, whilst providing space for newcomers to make names for themselves, also exposed the soft underbelly of the Pakistan team. The middle order that had for years balanced the need for recovering from regular disastrous starts with providing the platform for big scores was now devoid of its most important ingredients.

    What Pakistan needed was a rethink of its strategy and to bring in openers who could provide the kind of starts which would help the new middle order settle in. The selection of Shan Masood was a curious one as it seems that he has the same technical flaws in his batting that he had the last time he was dropped from international cricket. The Pakistan think-tank felt that Azhar Ali who had regularly opened in previous times was best suited for the No 3 slot. Whilst this strategy did work in the first innings of the first and second Tests, it failed miserably overall.

    For reasons best known to Azhar, he failed to make any real impact in the second Test possibly due to the weight of expectations and the stress of trying to balance the need to hold the innings together as well as to attack the opposition bowlers. He would probably have been a bit more relaxed if he didn't have to worry about Asad Shafiq whose failures in the first Test probably turned him into a walking wicket. Shafiq's strange desire to defend at all costs saw him put in some disappointing performances in three innings of the series. When he did decide to come out of his self-imposed shell in the second innings in Dubai, he was a changed player but it happened all too late for a beleaguered Pakistan batting lineup.

    Babar Azam’s rise in the limited-overs formats has been great news for Pakistan but his disappointments in the longer format of the game are evident and a case for the consistent Usman Salahuddin who carried drinks for the tour to have played in the all-important second Test was a strong one. It appeared that the Pakistan team management, confronted with a possible series loss, was paralysed with fear and chose the easy route. Azam’s eight runs in Dubai — consisting of an undignified duck in the second innings — was a good example of what a low-on-confidence player can do to himself, and this should have been spotted by the coach and captain beforehand.

    In his post-match comments after the defeat in Dubai, Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed was unequivocal in his blame on the batsmen for his side’s defeat. He repeated the fact that the inability to capitalsze on good starts was a reason why his team could not get to the big scores which had been norm during Misbah’s reign in the UAE. But what Sarfaraz seemed to gloss over was the fact that the Pakistan batting order only faced such high scores due to the failure of the bowling lineup.

    Yasir Shah bowled close to 152 overs for his 16 wickets in the series which is commendable for someone who was close to being ignored by the selectors due to fitness issues, but reflects badly on the effectiveness of the rest of the bowling attack and also raises questions why a second spinner was not picked.

    Bilal Asif or Mohammad Asghar could have been brought in to help Shah in the second Test, but Mickey Arthur and Sarfraz chose to bring in Wahab Riaz for an injured Hasan Ali. While Wahab did do some damage to the Sri Lankans in the second innings of the day/night Test in Dubai, the many runs he gave away in the first innings possibly put too much pressure on Pakistan’s batting lineup. Mohammad Amir’s injury appeared to be an open secret, but for reasons best known to the Pakistan team management, he was selected for the second Test only to limp off during the first innings and become a spectator for the rest of the match. He did make a cameo appearance as the last rites were being performed for his side’s innings.

    No amount of praise is enough to congratulate the visiting Sri Lanka team for their performance. They bowled and batted with conviction and were clearly a team who had a point to prove, which they did. In his defence, one could argue that this was Sarfraz’s debut series as Test captain and he could be forgiven for making a few tactical mistakes, but lessons need to be learnt quickly regarding team selection, tactics and how best to utilise the players at his disposal.

    The series against Sri Lanka raised more questions than answers for Pakistan:

    Why were out-of-form batsmen selected?
    Why were clearly unfit and injured players selected?
    Why were batsmen persisted with who were struggling?
    Why wasn't a second frontline spinner played?

    These questions are obvious to many and can be linked to Pakistan suffering their humiliating loss to Sri Lanka. Will lessons be learnt? Only time will tell.

    http://www.firstpost.com/firstcricke...r-4130693.html
    Last edited by MenInG; 11th October 2017 at 07:02.

  2. #2
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    Very odd selections especially when Mickey himself admitted that after 1st Test

    Hope he's also learnt his lesson


    For the latest updates on Cricket, follow @PakPassion on Twitter

  3. #3
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    Should have been learned after the 1st test, but mickey is too proud to admit his mistakes. Uae is a fortress built upon spinners supported by fast bowlers. To change something dynamically, a change in approach should have been better thought out.

    We were simply complacent and it could be forgiving had pakistan tried out new players like asghar and usman salahuddin but the problem is we persisted with same bunch and ended up on the losing side. Fine misbah and younis weren't there but we still didnt look like a side that would lose to sl.

    You could argue sl has been playing more test cricket, but the fact is they were well prepared. Last time we focussed on herath and won the series, this time around we thought we'd have a laugh whilst shopping at the emirates mall!!

  4. #4
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    How do we expect pathetic players who average in the low to mid 30s in our first class cricket (Sami 33, Shan 33, Asa's 38,Bavaria 35, Umar Amin 39) to suddenly sverage 45 or 50 at test level ?

    Players who average 50 and above (Fawad 52 and Harris 50)have been unfairly left out for so long by Inzi and his predecessors

  5. #5
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    Mickey and Sarfraz always seem to learn their lessons the hard way. It took a shameful defeat against India in CT for them to turn their fortunes and tactics. Now hopefully, this shameful series loss will teach them to revert back to the safe formulae.

    What frustrates me is Mickey being too adamant and stubborn on using the tactics he employed with Australia and Saf, rather than seeking to Pak's strengths and adjusting accordingly. The loss against India was too heartbreaking as it finally led him to realise that Wahab and two defensive openers arent the way to go about it. Hopefully he will now realise we need to let go of Babar, Shan and Sami and get 2 spinners regardless of the experience.

  6. #6
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    Sami could be invested but shan and babat definitely need to go back into 1st class and score especially babar. He is an asset in ltd overs though. Shan is a big no no. Asif zakir, fawad alam should be given chances and an extra spinner can always be played on the expense of a 3rd pacer

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Destroyer88 View Post
    Sami could be invested but shan and babat definitely need to go back into 1st class and score especially babar. He is an asset in ltd overs though. Shan is a big no no. Asif zakir, fawad alam should be given chances and an extra spinner can always be played on the expense of a 3rd pacer
    Why the soft spot for Sami? Talent is useless if it does not produce results. Better to play a batsman with poor technique but who scores runs than someone who has technique but can't do anything with it.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by SM1989 View Post
    Why the soft spot for Sami? Talent is useless if it does not produce results. Better to play a batsman with poor technique but who scores runs than someone who has technique but can't do anything with it.
    How many more players will come and go? Agreed that sami hasnt shown what he is capable off in this series but he has scored runs in abroad conditions (eng, Nz). I am always in favour of fawad alam being included

  9. #9
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    Fawad alam has smashed another domestic first class century just yesterday at a very goo strike rate off 150 odd deliveries, following up from a not out 50 at 116 strike rate in a first class match also, people who say he is an azhar clone or cant score are greatly mistaken, he wont solve all our problems but will be a step in the right direction, Babar azam has to be replaced also till he gets his first class average above 40

  10. #10
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    "The selection of Shan Masood was a curious one as it seems that he has the same technical flaws in his batting that he had the last time he was dropped from international cricket"

    This is no big mystery. Shan Masood 's Father is one of the members of 'Board of Governors of PCB'. Shan Masood came into the side as an opener with Khurram Manzoor. Khurram Manzoor scored a big hundred, Shan 70 runs. But Khurram Manzoor was dropped long time ago for non performance But Shan Masood has stuck like a chewing gum. After 12 test Matches Shan's Average 23.54 & even his first class average is 33. How in the world someone so medicore is opening for Pakistan?? This Nepotism at it's worst.

  11. #11
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    A massive tactical failure was with only playing one front line seamer. Shambles cricketing intelligence and what makes it worse after the first test defeat they didn't even learn their lesson.

    That doesn't mean play grandad Zulfi - the quality of spinners in Pakistan are arguable the best in the world. They had chance to play the talented leftie in Asghar and Shadab Khan could have been a handful with his googly and bigger ripping leg breaks.

    Pakistan is becoming a joke in test cricket.

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