After beginning their tour of England with a morale-boosting win at Lord’s, Pakistan have returned to square one! The previous two games at Old Trafford and Birmingham respectively, made Pakistan’s weakness obvious and like always, it was their incompetent show with the bat which disappointed their fans. In particular, the form of the veteran Mohammad Hafeez has been a sheer burden for the visitors.
On the final day of the Birmingham test, Hafeez played a rash pull shot only to be trapped and that began Pakistan’s misery. His overall record outside Asia is dismal, to say the least, and his returns look worse than a potential lower order batsman. For the all-important fourth test at The Oval, a serious step about Mohammad Hafeez needs to be taken. Coach Mickey Arthur hinted that Hafeez could be replaced by uncapped member Iftikhar Ahmed.
Stressing at Ahmed’s ability to bowl off-spin, Arthur said that he had a genuine chance for selection. “Yes, he is an option,” Arthur said. “He bowls off spin and decently, England have a lot of left-handers so he does give us an option as a fifth bowler if he comes in. But we have to be dead certain he can come into our top six and get runs because we’ll be asking for runs first and bowling second.”
Arthur also said that going in with five frontline bowlers was a positive move, but with Pakistan’s unstable batting lineup, it was difficult to accommodate. “It’s certainly one of the options, but whoever comes in somebody has got to bat middle order, which makes it a particularly long tail,” Arthur said. “That’s a very positive way to go. It’s one that we’ve thought about and one I lay in bed thinking about it last night. That’s a very positive option because we’ve got to get 20 wickets in this Test match. We’ve got to work on that one.”
Backing out of form batsman Younis Khan to strike form, the coach said, “Watching him train and go about his business, he still tops the fitness charts, he’s one of the fittest in the team, his diet is exemplary. He’s so professional on and off the field. Put it this way, he’s giving himself the best chance to perform and I’ll take my hat off to chap like that any day of the week.”