Pakistan misses success despite help from English weather and fielders
Pakistan England Test Series could have been 1-0 in favour of Pakistan if Pakistani team had broken the partnership, in time, between Jose Butler and Chris Woakes in Old Trafford. This partnership snatched the match from Pakistani team when they were hoping a success after getting top four English batmen for just 117 runs in the last innings of the first test match. Pakistan can also be considered unlucky as weather and English fielders tried their best to gift this series to Pakistan but due to inconsistency of Pakistani batting line up and inexperience of Pakistani bowlers couldn’t finish it in the desired manner.
If someone is out of form or wants to make new records Pakistan is the opponent for this purpose. Pakistani team helped out of form Jose Butler to regain his form and help Zack Crawley to make 267 runs. The stats in the first-class cricket declare Crawly a below-average batman with a poor average of 30.82 in 44 matches. In 11 innings of the 7 Test matches, Crawly had scored 314 runs with the average of 28.54 runs per inning. Now after Southampton Test his batting average has reached to the point of 48.41. Same is the case with Jose Butler who was going through a bad patch and fingers were raised towards his place in the team. Now by part of two great partnerships with Chris Woakes and Zak Crawley he has been able to cement his place in the team.
Pakistani batting line up has once again been very fragile in English conditions as expected by many pundits before the series. Plenty of practice matches and training sessions didn’t work out for Pakistani team as the batting line up managed to give only one above hundred runs partnership in the whole Test series. That only above hundred runs partnership was made between Captain Azhar Ali and wicketkeeper-batsman Muhammad Rizwan in the first innings of the final Test. Pakistani batsmen, somehow, showed determination to survive for 83 overs for the loss of four wickets after being followed on by the English team. But at the same time credit goes to rain which washed away four sessions of play on the fourth and fifth day of the Southampton Test.
By scoring a fine 141 runs not out in the first innings of the third Test, Azhar managed to score 210 runs in the series with an average of 52.50. In the first Tests, Azhar scored just 38 runs with an average of 12.66. Babar Azam though was not very successful but he showed, somehow, consistency and managed to finish the series with 195 runs with an average of 48.75. He also scored two fifties and his last innings in the Southampton Test helped Pakistan to draw the match.
Rizwan showed resilience throughout the series by scoring 161 crucial runs with an average of 40.25 runs per inning. Shan Masood was once again on the old track of scoring one good knock and then total disaster. Even after scoring 156 runs in the first innings of the Old Trafford Test, he managed to finish the series with the total score of 179 runs with a modest average of 35.80. In the last four innings of the tour Shan Masood just scored 23 runs with an average of 5.75 runs per innings.
Two of Pakistan’s senior batsmen finished the series with the lesser numbers than Yasir Shah, who is part of the team due to his leg-spin bowling and never considered as an all-rounder. Those two batsmen are Asad Shafiq and Fawad Alam. Asad Shafiq was a total disaster in the series. He appeared in five innings and managed to score 67 runs with a poor average of 13.40 runs per innings. He was highly irresponsible by throwing his wicket by indulging himself in a runout in the second innings of the Old Trafford Test. This unnecessary run out damaged a lot and was one of the reasons for Pakistan’s defeat in the first Test of the series. The success story of Pakistan first-class circuit, Fawad Alam was unable to create an impact in three innings of the Test series. He scored just 21 runs with an average of 10.50 runs.
Yasir Shah was the pick of the Pakistani Bowling who nearly took Pakistan close to the victory in the first match of the series by his restless spell. He bowled his heart out in the series but could not get support from his bowling partners to get good results. Yasir grabbed 11 wickets in the four innings of the series with an average of 33.45.
Muhammad Abbas though bowled on the perfect line and length but was unfortunate to grab just five wickets in the whole series. Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah were unable to create any impact in the series. They grabbed 5 and 3 wickets, respectively. Naseem Shah was given preference on experienced fast bowler Sohail Khan who was very successful in the practice matches of the series. Naseem was played with high hopes but was unable to show any rhythm in his run-up and consistency in the performance. He was chosen for his express bowling speed but he hardly delivered a bowl above 90 miles speed. If someone is too inexperienced and not bowling on an express speed, then why should he be given a chance in such an important series? This is the question which is being asked by cricket lovers in Pakistan.
Azhar Ali was not able to lead the team from the front. He was not very convincing in decision making. He never backed his bowlers during the emerging partnership by the English Batsmen in the crucial points of the match. He seemed clueless as a captain in the first and the last test match of the series where Butler built partnerships with Chris Woakes and Zak Crawley.
Though Azhar Ali has cemented his position as a player in the team Pakistani authorities should also consider some other options of captaincy in the Test matches. For many Babar Azam should be made captain in the three formats of the cricket as he is young and could lead the team for a long span of time.