ISLAMABAD - Pakistan team crushed ICC top Test playing nation South Africa by seven wickets to prove that at least, they will not lose the series against them.
With this victory, the green shirts also has maintained their reputation of being unpredictable, who can beat any topside of the world and can easily be beaten by any lowly-ranked team.
Head coach Dave Whatmore was just brought with the purpose to bring stability in the team’s performance and to get better results, but after almost two-year time as head coach, he has completely failed to achieve this task as the national team has been producing mixed results.
One notable and encouraging thing, witnessed during the first Test was team work as every player contributed for the cause which is rarely seen in the team. If they continue work hard with unity, then they can easily beat any given team either world’s top ranked or low-ranked and it will also help them beat the Proteas in the second Test and win the Test series.
M Irfan bowled superbly in the first innings and his extra pace and lengthy deliveries caused panic to South African batting and they kept on losing wickets at regular intervals. Zulfiqar Babar proved his selection right and provided much-needed support not only to Irfan and Junaid but also managed to tale a lot of burden from the shoulders of magician Saeed Ajmal.
Pakistan opening although was inexperienced as Khurrum Manzoor had hardly played some Tests and Shan Masood was the debutant, yet they both played brilliantly and managed a 135-run opening stand, which laid the foundation of a massive total for Pakistan. Shan impressed with his batting and the way he handled pressure of playing against world’s top bowlers was really appreciable and shows he had some class and he can deliver against world top teams.
Azhar Ali and Younus Khan once again failed miserably, which is not a good sign at all. Younus had to perform in the middle order as he is the only senior batsmen left in the squad after skipper Misbah. Asad Shafiq finally managed to get back into the form against his happy hunting opposition. He had scored a lot of runs against South Africa in the past too.
With this defeat, South Africa’s unbeaten 13 Test match record was also vanished. Now Pakistan had stamped out their authority against the world’s top team and they must not relax and sit back, as African’s are known to bounce back so they will try their best to win the next match and level the series. Pakistan team just needs to be careful from complacency, as their past history always speaks about their inefficiency to continue the good work and let down themselves.
Adnan Akmal has to improve his wicket-keeping skills, if he wants to prolong his Test match career. His butter fingers can cost Pakistan team dearly, as he dropped a few catches in the first Test. Pakistan fielding also needs to be improved to the highest level as the outcome of next Test will also depend on their sharp fielding. Julian Fountain was hired with a purpose to streamline fielding affairs, but unfortunately, he has failed so far to accomplish this task.
The way Pakistan top order flopped in the second innings despite only chasing 40 runs is not a healthy sign. Khurrum and Shan had to select their shots and try to prolong their stay at the crease because as long as they stay at the crease, the runs will start to flow thick and fast. Azhar must have to change his approach as his causal style is not only costing the team but also costing him the place in the playing XI.
Umer Amin is an automatic choice, as he is more than capable of batting at any given number. There is no place in the team for granted and everyone has to perform to earn a place in the playing XI. Azhar must understand he is not performing at all and Umer Amin should be given a chance in the second Test to strengthen the top order. There is no set criteria that if someone is not performing he should continue to play so just for maintaining the winning spree, head coach and the team management including skipper must pick the best squad.
Pakistan can’t afford any leniency as they are up against the top ICC ranked team, which in the past had shown their abilities of staging comebacks against top teams. Misbah must continue with aggressive approach and just concentrate on the task ahead. It can only be possible by playing with positive frame of mind and utilising his options very carefully and cover all the loopholes and not let the opponents to expose them to take benefit from them.