Pakistan eyed the number one spot in the ICC Test Rankings at this time last year. Their historic victory at the Oval against England in the last match of the four-match series, that leveled the series 2-2, drew them closer to the coveted position and a washed-out Test between West Indies and India at Trinidad bagged them the prestigious ICC Test Championship Mace.
Soon Pakistan lost six Tests in a row and their rankings plummeted. Their win/loss ratio since has been 0.57. Pakistan’s recent outing in the West Indies brought them their first-ever Test series win.
“We face some challenges now in our Test team to replace Misbah and Younis but I am confident that we have got enough young players who will step up,” Arthur said Thursday in a press conference at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore. “We are confident that we’ve got enough players there. Our Test team is an evolving team and that is great.”
Out of the many options that Arthur has on his table, a few are to bring Asad Shafiq up the order or bat Azhar Ali at one-drop.
“Asad Shafiq has been waiting to bat up the order,” Arthur, who has had more than a year as Pakistan’s head coach, said. “We can keep Azhar Ali opening the batting or we can bat him at number three in that case we will have to look for two openers. Shan Masood started the last Test [against the West Indies]. Ahmed Shehzad was in the West Indies but did not play in the last Test. Sami Aslam is playing particularly well at the moment. There is good competition for those opening slots. We took Usman Salahuddin with us to the West Indies and he impressed us with the way he went about his business. Haris Sohail has comeback really well and he offers us left-arm spin.
“We have started to get in the position, where we can play players and give them extended runs because we know we have got enough pushing through that will keep our standards high.”
Director Academies Mudassar Nazar had suggested Asad Shafiq to bat at number three during his media talk. The right-handed batsman has batted at one-drop in three matches and scored 198 runs at an average of 40.