HomeCricketStill licking Old Trafford wounds, Pak weigh up options...

Still licking Old Trafford wounds, Pak weigh up options for Ageas Bowl

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They only had a few days of turnover period between the first Test, which ended a day early on August 9, and the second which starts on August 13.

Just three days within which to introspect on their agonising defeat at the Emirates Old Trafford and chart a comeback course in the next at the scenic Ageas Bowl. 

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So, with the series on the line and only a day to go before the two captains head out for the toss again, how should Pakistan line up at the home of Hampshire County Cricket Club?

Should they ring in wholesale changes or play the same eleven which came away with the agony of conceding the Old Trafford Test to England despite bossing it for the better part of four days? 

While television pundits in Pakistan have presented a wide array of views on who Pakistan should go with at the Ageas Bowl, they will hardly serve as a reference point for the team and the support staff as they sit down to pick the XI for the second Test.

While not making a similar attempt, what we can do is to try and identify the areas and aspects where  Pakistan lagged in the opening Test and how they should address them going into the next battle.

Bring in Fawad Alam

For starters, they could consider bringing in the Fawad Alam into the XI.

Wasim Akram wants Fawad Alam, a prolific scorer in domestic cricket, in the middle-order at Ageas Bowl. (Credits: Twitter)
Boost Middle Order: Wasim Akram wants Fawad Alam, a prolific scorer in domestic cricket, in the middle-order at Ageas Bowl. (Credits: Twitter)

A prolific run-getter, who averages over 50 in domestic cricket, Fawad, in his mid-thirties now, has largely been a peripheral figure in Pakistan cricket and has been ignored despite knocking on the doors of selectors for long.

Having included him in the tour party, the think-tank should find a way to put him in the field of play as opposed to making him warm the benches and carry drinks and towels as a journeyman.

As a southpaw, he will also help the think-tank go in with a left-right batting combination in the middle order.

With vast experience behind him, Fawad knows the importance of occupying the crease, which not many of their batters showed in the series opener.

Even former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram thinks on the the similar line and wants Fawad Alam be included in the middle order in the second Test at Ageas Bowl in Southampton. Akram reasoned, “In the next match, you won’t find a turning wicket. You will play with one spinner and you will have to play with an extra batsman.”

“You need a middle-order batsman and Fawad Alam is the one. He is also a left-hander, so the team can have a left-right combination. He has an average of 56 in first-class cricket, has a hundred on Test debut, so you will have to give him a chance. So if I was the captain, I would include him in the middle order.”

Youth in place of experience

They could also bring in young Kashif Bhatti in place of Shadab Khan as Pakistan already has a leg-spinner in Yasir Shah and a slow left-armer coming in for a leggie would also lend more variety to their attack.

Even as eyebrows were raised over Shadab not getting enough overs to bowl, the management clarified that they view him as a batting all-rounder who can roll his arms over. If that be the case, then young Faheem Ashraf, being a seam-bowling all-rounder, should have a stronger claim to being picked in the playing XI. 

While there isn’t much to crib or complain about the way their pacers bowled at Old Trafford, the Pakistan management might consider going with the experience of Wahab Riaz over the exuberance of young tearaway Naseem Shah.

A genuine quick bowler, Wahab is also a skilled operator with the old ball, an attribute the Pakistanis missed, especially when the partnership between Joss Buttler and Chris Woakes was taking the game away from them at Old Trafford.

Rashid Latif wants promising young batter Haider Ali included in the XI for the Ageas Bowl Test. (Credits: Twitter/Pakistan Cricket)
Time to Play: Rashid Latif wants promising young batter Haider Ali included in the XI for the Ageas Bowl Test. (Credits: Twitter/Pakistan Cricket)

Former Pakistan stumper Rashid Latif wants promising young batter Haider Ali included in the XI for the Ageas Bowl Test.

Presenting his views on how Pakistan should line up in the second Test in his YouTube show ‘Caught Behind’, Latif said captain Azhar Ali and Asad Shafique are on the last legs of their Test career and the time was ripe for the management to blood promising youngsters such as Haider.

“The time to play Haider is now and if you don’t, you will waste one year of his career. We’re waiting for Azhar and Asad to retire before bringing in Haider but by then, it will be too late,” Latif said.

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