Home > Features >

Are Pakistan batsmen restraining their natural batting abilities?

© AFP
Ahmed Shehzad plays a shot during the first Test match between Pakistan and Sri Lanka at Galle © AFP

The fifth day approach of Pakistan in the first Test against Sri Lanka at Galle was one example of the batting falling apart trying to save the Test rather than playing their natural game. Abhijit Banare analyses the batting ahead of the final test at Colombo.

While the officials within the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) are still busy playing musical chairs, the only thing that seems constant about Pakistan cricket these days is its batting. A seven-month gap has not changed the unpredictability they showed before. At times they’ll pull off some stunning chase and then there examples like the Galle Test. Click Here for highlights of Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 1st Test

Restraining their natural game? While Test cricket requires a good temperament, it never restrained someone like Virender Sehwag for who he was. The attacking strokes redefined the definition of ‘batting naturally’ in the longest format of the game just as much as the celebrated Sri Lankan openers did for the 50-over format. The Pakistan team is still in its rebuilding phase just like many other teams, and a few players might walk in an d walk out in the next one or two years. However, the present young lot are a naturally aggressive batsmen. Look at Khurram Manzoor, Azhar Ali and Ahmed Shehzad, the top three of the current Test line-up. These are free-flowing batsmen and love to score quickly. Their approach in holding on to the crease only added pressure to the rest of the batting line-up. And more so, if the batsmen to fall are Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan – two batsmen known to grind the bowlers down before they start scoring fluently. Sarfaraz Ahmed did show glimpses of his natural style lower down the order.

What beyond Younis-Misbah partnerships? 30 innings, 1821 runs with 10 century partnerships at an average of 70.03. Another way to look at it, a Pakistan fan heaves a sigh of relief when their team is three down at any stage of the game. The team is heavily dependent on this duo to take them through. While they have live up to the expectations every time, it certainly isn’t going to assist them in any way going ahead. Both players are in twilight of their Test careers. Moreover, it also gives a sense of confidence for the opposition that if they get past this partnership, they do stand a good chance of bowling them out early.

The key players: Ahmed Shehzad, Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali will be the key players to watch out for in the years ahead. It’s not just about ‘potential’ but these three have proven their abilities on different occasions that they are good enough for this format of the game. Shehzad (147) and Azhar (103) against Lanka at Sharjah and Shafiq (130) against South Africa were laudable. Both Azhar and Shafiq have enough experience at this level to take the batting ahead.

The bright hope for Pakistan lies in the lower order where Sarfaraz has contributed handsomely with two half-centuries batting at No 7. They have been fiddling around with various options and Ahmed’s growth as a keeper-batsman will be a huge relief. Sarfaraz also showed the rest of the line-up the way by sticking to his aggressive style. At 293 for five in the first innings, he could have still played for the big shot and lost his way. On the other hand, the 71-ball 55 only helped Pakistan to make rapid strides while Younis anchored the other end. Shafiq and Sarfaraz at No 6 and No 7 add solidity to the lower order. But with time, the retirement of the senior pros could see them bat higher up.

Like many of their players in the past, Pakistan have enough talent, it’s time they stick with their natural style and deliver the results. Colombo could still see a different Pakistan. The home side will be anxious to send their legend off with a win and Pakistan, as unpredictable as they are, could go on to script an unlikely victory.

Complete coverage of Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka 2014 here

(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (14:00 IST)   at Port Elizabeth

Sri Lanka tour of New Zealand, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (03:30 IST)   at Christchurch

India tour of Australia, 2014-15

Dec 26, 2014 (05:00 IST)   at Melbourne

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Jan 2, 2015 (14:00 IST)   at Cape Town

Sri Lanka tour of New Zealand, 2014-15

Jan 3, 2015 (03:30 IST)   at Wellington

More

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 19, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

New Zealand won by 68 runs

India tour of Australia, 2014-15

Dec 17, 2014  at Woolloongabba, Brisbane

Australia won by 4 wkts

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Dec 17, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

New Zealand won by 7 runs

West Indies in South Africa, 2014-15

Dec 17, 2014  at Centurion

South Africa won by an innings and 220 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Dec 16, 2014  at Colombo

Sri Lanka won by 87 runs

Photos

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane

Videos

Ind vs Aus: Dhoni analyses the 4-wicket loss at Brisbane

Live Cricket Score Ranji Trophy 2014-15, Round 3, Day 1 — All matches

India’s collapse against Australia on 2nd Test at Brisbane: Did the visitors really bat badly on Day 4?

India vs Australia 2014-15, 2nd Test at Brisbane: Marks out of 10 for the hosts

India vs Australia 2014-15, Brisbane: India marks out of 10

India vs Australia, 2nd Test at Brisbane: India’s tail tales

Anil Kumble Australia India Moments in history Ricky Ponting South Africa

Shahid Afridi retirement: Twitter reaction

Shahid Afridi to retire from ODIs after 2015 World Cup: Report

Kevin Pietersen determined to make comeback despite selectors’ reluctance

Alastair Cook sacked in ‘hugely disrespectful’ manner: Andrew Strauss

India vs Australia 2014-15, 3rd Test at Melbourne: Joe Burns says dream come true to play for Australia

Pakistan vs New Zealand ODI series 2014: A look back at the series

Murali Vijay’s 144 among most runs scored by an Indian on Day 1 of overseas Test

Virat Kohli, Steve Smith and others scoring century on their Captaincy Debut in Test cricket

Batsman given hit wicket after mobile phone falls on stumps

India vs Australia 2014-15, 2nd Test at Brisbane: Highlights

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

683 Posts | 6 Fans

Mitchell Johnson's 37 wickets against England in Ashes 2013-14

प्रसिद्ध कथक नृत्यांगना सितारा देवी नहीं रही

More broadband connections to boost GDP growth in Asia Pacific: GSMA

India is becoming our largest overseas market, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun says

Bigg Boss 8: Ali Quli Mirza, Renee Dhyani, Upen Patel, Praneet Bhatt, Sonali Raut – who should be evicted this week?

Revealed: The reason why Kishore Kumar’s biopic starring Ranbir Kapoor won’t feature Katrina Kaif!

अभिनेत्री प्रियंका चोपड़ा ने स्वच्छ भारत अभियान में हिस्सा लिया

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here