Pakistan not that good after all!

Pakistan not that good after all!

Alastair Cook vs Pakistan
Alastair Cook of England and Mohammad Amir of Pakistan shake hands at the end of the match. (Photo by Mitchell Gunn/Getty Images)

If the first Test match was an affirmation of Pakistan’s potential to topple England in England, the result of the second Test may well be a reality check of sorts for the tourists. There is no doubt that the Lord’s victory was a well-deserved one for the Pakistanis, it is not to deny that their task was further simplified by English mistakes.

Of course now this statement can be called skeptical and I can be blamed for picking out imaginary faults in an otherwise fine victory for no reason but I believe that I have a worthy argument, so do many others!

While the pitch at Lord’s was seam friendly and was offering a ton of help to the bowlers, the wicket at Old Trafford was close enough to the opposite of the Lord’s wicket, the pitch offered little help to further enhance the effectiveness of Riaz’s reverse swing, Yasir Shah’s ever widening turn at Lord’s looked like a fading star while Mohammad Amir’s initially edged deliveries failed to find the cupped hands of a Pakistani fielder, they simply preferred the ground more!

So when the conditions didn’t compliment Pakistani bowlers who were deemed to be a killer bunch after the victory at Lord’s, Pakistan’s success seemed to rest entirely on the mistakes of the opposition, unfortunately Joe Root came to the party to ruin their plans, the English captain Alastair Cook too wasn’t far behind. The two played the game of patience and while one departed, the other continued to find reliable partners walking out of the pavilion.

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The assumption that this is perhaps the strongest Pakistan team to tour England since 1996 may well be correct and yet, assuming that its weaknesses will persist and plague its chances of success, we may well be looking at a replay of the Pakistan’s earlier debacles in England, while the Lord’s Test wasn’t in the news for the batting on display and it was the bowling which hogged the limelight, the pitch at Old Trafford required long batting periods, something which England did effectively and Pakistan failed to replicate effectively.

Their openers remain a confused lot for Mohammad Hafeez and Shan Masood seem to have failed to stitch decent partnerships in the series, Younis Khan, the backbone of the Pakistan middle order holds the fort for a long time and yet, is looking more like a dancer first and a batsmen later. His jumping antics and failure to adjust to the English conditions has made him the subject of ridicule by the English media.

Asad Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed are bright prospects, the future of Pakistan cricket for sure and yet, their inexperience is downplaying their longevity on the crease.

Pakistan’s first innings made everyone expect follow-on to be imposed, it was right, it should have happened, it was opportune and yet, Alastair Cook in his bid to give his bowlers some rest decided to bat again. Nevertheless, the end result is all that matters right now and Pakistan are staring at a potential turn around and an abrupt stop to their fairytale.

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England on the other hand have played true to their word as they had warned them to beware of a turnaround. Now that turnaround has happened and Pakistan is looking to make the most of the next two Test matches. If they do manage to do that, it will be their first series victory in England after a gap of 20 years and perhaps a sign of new cricketing heroes for Pakistan, perhaps a team which can at least aspire to be counted in the same league as the team functioning in the Waqar Younis – Wasim Akram era. More than a victory, it will serve as a healer of old wounds for the memories of the spot-fixing scandal of 2010 are still afresh.

If Pakistan are to make a comeback in the next Test match, they will be hoping that they get a pitch which can be exploited for pace and bounce and lend some liveliness to Pakistan’s bowling attack. The batsmen will need to step up and match the long periods of batting displayed by their English counterparts and the opening stand will be crucial for that, the middle order needs to capitalize on their good starts.

Asad Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed need to take the onus on themselves to lengthen the stay of Pakistan’s middle order. Amidst all the chaos, Misbah-ul-Haq will need his calm demeanor more than ever to lend some sort of stability to the Pakistani batting, the complementation of Younis Khan in this regard will be crucial.

Regardless of the persisting weaknesses of the Pakistan team which was exploited generously in the second Test match, it may well just be the unity which helps them sail across the English tide!

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