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Five things Pakistan should do to level series

Written by Omair Alavi

By Omair Alavi   They are down 1-0 in the ongoing two-match series with Sri Lanka, but Sarfraz Ahmed and the boys are still not out of contention. One win can level the series for Pakistan if the team stays in sensible mode rather than in self-destruction mode because that helps the opponents more….

SAMAA | Omair Alavi – Posted: Oct 5, 2017 | Last Updated: 4 years ago

By Omair Alavi

They are down 1-0 in the ongoing two-match series with Sri Lanka, but Sarfraz Ahmed and the boys are still not out of contention. One win can level the series for Pakistan if the team stays in sensible mode rather than in self-destruction mode because that helps the opponents more. The Sri Lankans would be playing Day/Night Test in UAE for the first time and that helps Pakistan’s cause but God helps those who help themselves. What are the five things that the team should do if they are to help themselves to level the series and go into the limited overs format with their heads high … read on:

Try Right-Left combination

In Cricket, the biggest advantage a team has on its opponent is the element of surprise. The Captain can change the batting order to surprise the opposition, send in a least likely batsman to the crease when they are expecting someone else and then play on the gamble. However, in Pakistan we seem to be playing Test Cricket in the 50s because the batsmen score runs slowly, the opponents know who the next man will be and so forth. If Asad Shafiq is not in the best form, make him bat higher and send either of the two left-handed openers down the order to surprise the Sri Lankans. Rangana Herath is a left-arm bowler and if we have another left-handed batsman in the middle order to support Haris Sohail, the better. Open the innings with Azhar and either Sami Aslam or Shan Masood and on the loss of the first wicket, send either Asad or the remaining leftie to confuse the bowlers.

Make it or Break it for Babar Azam

Babar Azam is the Rameez Raja of the current batting side – he fails in Tests but once he dons the colored clothing, he is a beast that no one seems to tame. The batting coach must counter his fears or drop him in favor of the ‘domestically’ experienced Bilal Asif or Usman Salahuddin. We need a batsman in the middle order who can curb his enthusiasm rather than show that he is part of the Akmal family when it comes to final deliveries of sessions or days. This should be his last chance in Tests because while other teams select players on performance in that format, we select them on performance in ay format. The case of Wahab Riaz is different; he is selected because of no performance and is even a bad choice as a 12th Man!

Find someone reliable in the slip region

It is the time to realize that Younis Khan is not standing in the slip and someone else should take his place – Asad Shafiq isn’t that someone though. Isn’t it the coach’s job to assess and select the right candidate for the job because right now it seems that they will send anyone who raises his hand to the question of fielding in the slip region! Get someone appropriate or develop someone for that very important role. The coaching staff can do it because it is their job; the Captain takes over when they are in the field and a dropped catch is as much responsibility of the Coach as it is of the player standing in the slip cordon.

Attack with mind, not with insults

Ever since Sarfraz Ahmed has taken over the captaincy, he has been ultra-aggressive especially in ODIs and T20s. However, being too aggressive has its repercussions as the team gets tired of giving their 100 percent on every delivery and that results in extra runs as the overs progress. Pakistan could easily have dismissed the Sri Lankans for a much lesser score in the last match but Sarfraz the Player seemed to have lost the battle to Sarfraz the Captain and hence the extra runs. Treat others with respect and they will die for you on the field; disrespect them and they will bowl just to complete the over.

Play to win, not play to get through 5 days

People criticized ex-Test Cricketer Sikandar Bakht for blaming Misbah ul Haq for leaving behind a legacy of slow batting and he has a point. Had Pakistan batted a little quicker in their first innings, they might not have fared this badly on the fifth day. We must understand that Test Cricket has changed and the way David Warner bats is the way forward. We could assign one or two batsmen to take charge so that it benefits the team; Hasan Ali’s quick-fire innings got Pakistan ahead but we need more of such cameos from the lower-order and longer innings in short time by people in the upper-order. Until and unless the players (and officials) realize that slow and steady don’t win the race, they will lose the match as soon as they lose the toss.

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Omair Alavi