Azhar Ali walks out to bat. The team needs him to bat out the tough hours and play an innings he was once known for. He falls for a golden duck.
Pakistani fans hope for resistance from batsmen. The scorecard reads 3/53 in reply to South Africa’s 262. Senior player Asad Shafiq takes guard. He starts nervously. The third ball is a bouncer. Shafiq ducks, but, leaves the bat hanging. Top edge to the keeper and Pakistani collapse is very much on.
While this may be the story of a particular test match, but, cricket lovers know that this is a pattern that is being repeated again and again, ever since the retirements of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan.
Asad Shafiq might have made a record number of centuries at number 6. Azhar Ali might have scored a triple century. To what use…if they are not performing at crucial moments?
A Look at Numbers
Let’s get out of the test arena and compare the domestic averages of some of the best players in Pakistan.
|Batsman||Matches||Inns||Not Outs||Runs||Highest Score||Average||Strike Rate||100s||50s|
Out of all the current batsmen playing in the domestic circuit, Fawad Alam is undoubtedly the most consistent player, scoring 11,191 runs at an average of 56.52.
Having been left out of the side after just 3 tests in which he averaged 41.66 with a best of 168, Fawad Alam has never been considered for test cricket after his debut run despite piling on runs year after year.
Usman Salahuddin and Saad Ali are two players who got their test call-ups, however, they have been left out of the national side without giving them proper chances.
Usman was picked for the West Indies tour – the farewell series of Misbah and Younis – in 2017, however, he was given his first and only test cap in 2018 against England. Later, he was dropped from the side in the New Zealand tour to the United Arab Emirates.
Saad Ali has a similar story. Despite being a part of the New Zealand series, the left-handed batsman was dropped from the next tour without getting a debut game.
Umar Akmal might have behavioral issues but has numbers backing him.
Meanwhile, the least averaged players – Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq – are being given chances over and over again. The only current test player that justifies his selection in the team is Haris Sohail, who averages 40.33 with 2 centuries in 10 matches, which can be considered a decent start to a test career.
Azhar Ali has decent numbers as a test cricketer; he averages 43.27, while Asad Shafiq scores 38.94 runs per innings. The numbers aren’t that bad, but when you look at them as the senior most players who should be the backbone of the batting lineup and look at the recent performances of the two senior most batsmen, it is safe to assume that the two need dressing-down. Either the two need to step up their game, not just outside UAE but in Asia as well, or it is time to find replacements.
Do you think Pakistan should continue with Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq in test cricket? Let us know what you think!