After a gap of almost five years, Pakistan cricket team will begin their test series tomorrow against the most vulnerable Australian squad in two decades.
I had been waiting for this test series since April, when Pakistan faced Aussies in UAE for a One day series. Back then, Younus was the captain of the team and there was a semblence of unity that was being developed within the squad.
I was quite hopeful that come fall, we would have gelled well enough to be able to present a more than passing challenge to the aussies but sadly, things didnt really pan out the way i hoped for.
Crisis after crisis struck the team, despite them winning T20 WC and reaching CT Semi-final, and now when the boxing day test is merely hours away, we are yet again in a state of limbo and unsure of our chances.
Although it is useless to cry on what we dont have, but absence of Younis Khan is going to be one key factor which could well decide this series. The current crop of batsmen we have, seemingly dont have the necessary steel needed to counter those brash aussies. Barring Umar Akmal, the rest are just a wee bit timid to me. Which is why i place special emphasize on Younis’s absence, and by extension, Afridi’s.
Despite my absolute hatred for Imran Farhat, he has managed to retain his place due to lack of an alternative, his blessed luck and zero abilities of his own. Salman Butt, if he stops fishing outside off, has a lot of talent which he must learn how to utilise. Yousuf is a proven performer but he has to be more brave and instinctive rather than operating in safety-first mode. Umar Akmal is a shoo in, and so is Kamran.
Thus our batting line up goes something like ‘Farhat, Butt, Yousuf, Misbah, Umar, Kamran’ in this very order.
Now comes the difficult part. We have five slots left and keeping in mind our brittle batting, should we have another batsman, or we go with 3 fast bowlers and 2 spinners. Obviously, having an Afridi would have solved the entire dilemma as he is the most dynamic all rounder we have; or we pick one from Fawad Alam or Shoaib Malik.
Between the two of them Fawad must be given a chance in as i believe Misbah, despite his failings, is still technically a more sound batsman and can be assured of his spot in the team.
Being a bowler myself, and a firm believer in the adage that bowling win matches, i hope the tour selection committee opts for this choice. It leaves our batting without an insurance so to speak, but then might also give us the desired variety to bamboozle the australian batting lineup which do not have the most accomplished players of spin barring Ponting and Clarke.
The bad luck with Pakistan has been that every time we have faced the aussies during last 15 years [since our tour there in `94/95] .. we have faced the STRONGEST possible team Australia can send out in terms of inform batsmen and bowlers, and every time we were saddled with team bereft of ideas and inspirations [exception being the `99 team which SHOULD have done more than they did]. The neutral tour in Colombo/ Sharjah in 2002, the Aussie trip in 2004, both the teams were without star players and was badly affected with injuries.
And that brings us to the same point again, that this is the BEST chance for Pakistan team to actually put one across the aussies and not just win our first test down under since 1995, but actually to go ahead and win our FIRST SERIES against them. Regardless of what we have or we dont, Pakistan MUST avail the resources in hand and combine together to beat the aussies and make it worth for us pakistanis at home to wake up 5am every morning and going to work/college in the most joyful mood 🙂