No Misbah/Younis, No good news
Pakistan Cricket bitterly feels the absence of recently retired legends
Pakistan suffered a 2-0 loss at the hands of Sri Lanka in the UAE, its first series without Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis khan in the team. The departure of these two great ambassadors of the game has made it difficult for the middle order to survive. Indeed, their class, experience, and devotion is unmatched and cannot be replaced overnight especially, when the team is in a reformation phase.
Mickey Arthur in his recent press conference said that they wanted a batsman in the middle order (to replace Misbah and Younis) bringing Azhar Ali down to 3 and Asad Shafiq up to 4. This unfortunately didn’t work out for Pakistan. The opening became fragile and all of the pressure came on the middle order. Asad was struggled constantly but how could a feeble fulcrum provide support to the young blood? Though he did well to get a century in the second test, he wasn’t able to give the final touch; similar to the Brisbane test in 2016 where Asad scored 137, yet Pakistan lost the match.
Absence of Misbah’s captaincy also seems to be a major constraint for Pakistan. Pakistan also didn’t deploy two full time spinners on a turning pitch and instead used 3 fast bowlers. In contrast, Sri Lanka deployed a proper spin combo of Herath and Perera which got them 28 wickets, including the crucial wicket of Sarfaraz on the last day of 2nd test. The fast bowling department was also inconsistent, Amir’s injury certainly didn’t help and Wahab initially leaked too many runs.
Sarfaraz has the acumen of being a great test captain but it needs to be developed. He appeared a bit perplexed on the pitch in this series. In the first inning he tried out seven bowlers in small spells when he wasn’t getting wickets. His batting also seemed somewhat agitated. However, he did play the last innings exceptionally well by building a partnership of 173 runs with Asad Shafiq, proving that sometimes it’s more important to score more runs rather than maintaining a high strike rate.